Wages of state employees including teachers should rise by 3.5 percent next year according to an agreement reached at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. According to a report by the news server iDnes, minister of interior Milan Chovanec said that talks about the level of pay rises for police and firemen will continue with. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš had been looking to keep the wage raise lower. Christian Democrats have already achieved one of their goals on Tuesday with an agreement for more generous tax breaks for families with children.
A Prague court has handed a former deputy minister of labour and social affairs a six-year jail term for attempted blackmail. Vladimír Šiška was found guilty of offering a software company a contract worth at least CZK 100 million if it withdrew a complaint it had lodged at the anti-trust authority against the ministry. Then minister Jaromír Drábek stood down over the matter; he was close to Mr. Šiška and had previously co-owned a company with him. Mr. Šiška’s co-defendant Milan Hojer, who headed the ministry’s IT department, got five years behind bars for his part in the affair.
Following persistent complaints regarding the length of time it takes for foreign investors to bring highly qualified staff to run their businesses in the Czech Republic, Czech authorities have finally moved to ease the allocation of work permits for non-EU workers in foreign companies with over 250 employees.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he will push for civil servants to get a salary increase higher than the 2.5 percent proposed by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. Salary hikes for civil servants in 2015 have become an issue of controversy between the two biggest coalition partners, the Social Democrats and ANO, with the Social Democrats trying to make good on their generous election promises, and ANO, which controls the finance ministry, pushing for greater fiscal restraint. The junior partner in the centre-left coalition the Christian Democrats have so far failed to take a stand. The matter is to be debated at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
The three parties of the ruling coalition are to meet on Monday to finalize the details of a draft law on the civil service. The bill, which will set down rules governing the civil service and determine the status of the country’s 80 thousand or so civil service employees, should help secure a professional efficient and non-corrupt administration. The Czech Republic is the only EU member state which has so far failed to implement such a legislation, which has elicited strong criticism from Brussels.
Mortgage payments on average slice off a third of people’s incomes in the Czech Republic, with Prague inhabitants paying up to three times as much as people in other parts of the country, according to data collected by Golem Finance and released by the Czech Statistics Office. Mortgages in Prague amount to three fifths of the borrower’s income, followed by mortgages in south Bohemia which slice off 32 percent on average. The cheapest mortgages are in the Ustí region north of Prague, which only amount to 12 percent of a borrower’s income on average.
The Ministry of Finance is to recommend that teachers get a 1 percent pay rise as part of next year’s budget. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists that teachers’ unions’ assertions that the government planned to freeze teachers’ salaries were untrue. Mr. Babiš said that teachers deserved a pay rise, but that the Ministry of Education would need to reduce operating costs. He and the education minister, Marcel Chládek, are due to hold talks. Representatives of teachers’ unions said on Tuesday that their members’ pay would be frozen next year, while other public servants would see higher salaries.
Teachers’ unions have criticised a government plan to freeze their salaries next year while increasing the pay of other public sector workers. Union representatives called for an increase in the overall amount allocated for teachers’ wages and said they wished to discuss their demands with the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, and the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. The programme for government had promised an increase in teachers’ salaries, which last year reached an average of just under CZK 26,000 a month. The unions also want other employees working in the education sector to get a pay rise.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic dropped by 0.4 percentage points to 7.9 percent in April, the biggest monthly drop this year according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The total number out of work stands at just under 575,000. The latest drop was partly due to the start of seasonal work as well as the continued upturn in the Czech economy and more people registering themselves as self employed. Unemployment has been on a downward slide since January.
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