The multinational concern Lasselsberger has been given the go-ahead to build a cement works in Stramberk, north Moravia, creating 130 new jobs in a region with a high unemployment rate. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2005. The project had been on the table for about three years but protests from several environmentalist groups delayed decision on the project. Earlier, an appeal was rejected by the Environment Ministry. As it stands the he new cement plant could start operations in 2006, reaching full capacity in 2007.
Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called for an emergency session of Parliament which would freeze the salaries of deputies, senators and ministers in the coming year. The Lower House recently approved a law which postpones a planned increase in the salaries of policemen, firemen and other emergency services but which at the same time raises the salaries of deputies, senators, cabinet ministers and state attorneys as of January 1st of 2005. Coming at a time of cuts in public spending, the news evoked plenty of criticism. Minister Sobotka said that with goodwill from both houses of Parliament there was still time to reverse this decision.
Senior state officials, judges and prosecutors are unlikely to receive a 14th month's salary this year, after a government vote on Tuesday overturned a decision of the Senate, which had approved the bonus. Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach said he did not regard the 14th month's salary as just in terms of the state administration as a whole. The Czech Union of Judges has said some of its members may sue the state over the matter.
A report by the Statistical Office of the European Communities, Eurostat, says that Czechs have the longest working hours in the European Union. In the Czech Republic people spend more than 42 hours at work every week which is by five hours more than the European average. The Eurostat study also says that part-time employment in the Czech Republic is rare compared to other EU states and the country has a high rate of long term unemployment.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic was at 8.9 percent at the end of
October, down from 9.1 percent a month earlier, according to figures
released by the Labour Ministry on Monday. Mild weather which boosted
activity in construction and tourism is credited with the slight fall
in the unemployment rate.
Inflation, meanwhile, rose by 3.5 percent on an annual basis in October, which is the biggest increase since March 2002.
Over 600 employees at steelmakers Ispat Nova Hut have accepted severance pay equivalent to 25 months' salary, a spokesman for the north Moravian company said on Monday. Ispat Nova Hut plans to lay off 2,000 of its 11,000 workers by the end of the year. The redundancy pay offer - which is unusually generous by Czech standards - is open to employees until the middle of November.
Government officials, trade unions and employers failed to reach a consensus on Thursday on the valorisation of the minimum wage in the coming year. The government proposal envisaged an increase by 600 crowns a month but trade unions considered it inadequate and pushed for an 800 crown increase to seven and a half thousand crowns. Employers want to keep the minimum wage at its present level.
Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill which will substantially increase the salaries of police officers, customs officers and fire fighters. As of January 2005 people in these professions will receive an average 32,000 crowns (around 1,000 euros) per month. The bill was strongly opposed by the Christian Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats who argued that it would raise mandatory expenditures to an unacceptable level. The head of Parliament's budget committee, Miroslav Kalousek, failed in his attempt to get the pay increase postponed by two years.
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