The jobless rate in the Czech Republic hit an all-time high in January, when it increased to 8.6 percent from 8.2 percent in December 2013, the Employment Office said Monday. The number of unemployed reached 629,274 at the end of January, which is 32,441 more than at the end of 2013. Despite the mild winter, unemployment was affected by the suspension of seasonal work in construction, agriculture and forestry. A moderate decrease in unemployment can be expected in the second half of this year, when economic revival should influence the labour market.
More than half a million Czechs are currently out of work, and the prospects are particularly bleak for people in their 50s who are too young to retire, but by all accounts too old to be of interest to potential employers. People who find themselves out of a job in this age group have only a 50 percent chance of getting employed and the threat of never finding work again is very real. This is something that the NGO Alternativa 50+ is trying to change.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Public Television on Sunday that civil servants would get a two percent wage rise in 2014. The finance minister denied claims that he was against wage increases this year, saying that police officers would get an additional 1.4 billion crowns for wage hikes and the creation of a thousand new jobs.
The incoming minister of labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová-Tominová, is on the supervisory board of a company that is in a legal dispute with the ministry, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday. The Social Democrat politician said she was aware of the conflict of interest but had a purely formal role at the company. She added that cabinet members have 30 days to quit such positions. The company is in receivership and the ministry is claiming CZK 20 million it gave the firm to provide social services; the ministry halted the project when doubts emerged over how it was being run.
Two of the three main Czech telecommunications operators, Telefonica and Vodafone, will together layoff some 700 employees, according to Czech business website iHned. All three mobile phone network operators in the Czech Republic, which also includes T-Mobile, have faced worsening conditions and a long-term drop in profits. At the same time, the firms have been forced to invest billions of crowns in the next generation mobile phone network. According to the website, Vodafone, the third-largest operator on the Czech market, will let go around 11 percent of its 1,800 employees, continuing in lay-offs from last year. T-Mobile, which let go several hundred people in 2013, confirmed it would lay-off several dozen people this year.
The Social Democrats’ human rights and family spokeswoman Michaela Marksová Tominová is in the frame to become minister of labour and social affairs in the emerging Czech government. The party’s leaders selected her after their previous nominee withdrew citing family tragedy. The Social Democrats are set to have eight seats in the next cabinet, alongside ANO with six and the Christian Democrats with three.
Five women candidates are reported to be on incoming prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s shortlist to become Minister of Labour and Social affairs. A Social Democrat spokesman said Thursday that deputy hejtman for the Olomouc region, Yvona Kubjátová, had been added to the existing list. Sobotka is expected to decide who will fill the post on Friday. His previous nominee, Petr Krčál, stood down from the proposed Cabinet position for family reasons. The Social Democrats had no women in their original line up of ministers for the proposed three-way government.
The outgoing Czech interim government on Wednesday approved a civil
service bill which overhauls the rules for the employment of public
officials, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said. If passed by Parliament, the
legislation will protect officials from the influence of elected
politicians. Under the bill, government ministers would be exempt from
legislation preventing former collaborators of the communist secret police,
StB, from holding high public posts. It will also establish the position of
the director general of public administration who will be appointed by the
president. The introduction of the civil service act would cost the state
budget around six billion crowns, according to the government.
The passing of the bill in a first round of debate in the lower house is a condition set by President Miloš Zeman for appointing ANO leader Andrej Babiš finance minister; Mr Babiš faces allegations he worked for the StB in the 1980s. MPs are set to discuss the legislation next week.
The Social Democrats are looking for a new candidate for labour and social affairs minister after their nominee for the post, Petr Krčál withdrew over family reasons. Party leaders met on Wednesday to discuss the nominations; deputy party chair Lubomír Zaorálek told reporters after the meeting that most candidates for the post are women. The news agency ČTK reported that Zlín regional councillor Taťána Valentová Nersesjan, former central Bohemian councillor Zuzana Jentschke Stöcklová and the party’s human rights and family policy expert Michaela Marksová Tominová were among the candidates.
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