The Senate will convene a public hearing about proposed changes to the labour law on Tuesday. A major point of contention relates to severance pay. Workers unions want to keep in place a provision requiring an employer to give three months notice and pay two months' severance pay. Employers' associations say the requirement is too costly and leads to an inflexible workforce.
General practitioners will hold a one day strike on Thursday, October 6th in protest against the poor payment morale of health insurance companies. The General Practitioners Association will make known its demands to the Prime Minister within the next few days. Private physicians have long called for changes in the system of financing, saying that long delays in payments are threatening their livelihood. The Prime Minister has called a meeting with health insurance companies and Health Minister Milada Emmerova for Monday.
Private physicians have announced they will go on a one day strike in protest of the poor payment morale of some health insurance companies, in particular the leading insurance company VZP. Payments allegedly arrive three to six months after they are due and physicians say the constant delays are endangering their livelihood. The one day strike is to take place sometime within the next fortnight and on the given day emergency medical care should be provided by hospital wards.
The cabinet has approved a controversial new Labour Code draft submitted by Social Democrat Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach. The coalition Christian Democrats came out against the bill, while the smallest coalition party, the Freedom Union, abstained from the vote. The Christian Democrats said they would vote for the draft if sections regarding powers of trade unions were removed. The draft will now go to the Lower House, where the Social Democrats are likely to appeal to the Communist Party for support. T he current Labour Code has been in force since 1966. In the last fifteen years there have been dozens of amendments added, with experts say the code has become too complicated and unclear. If the draft passes in Parliament and is signed by the President, it will be the biggest change in labour legislation since 1990.
Talks between representatives of the government, the trade unions and employers broke down on Thursday when the latter two groups walked out, saying they were dissatisfied with the government's approach to joint negotiations. The unions and employers say they received documents at the last minute, or after they had already been approved by the government. They have called for an extraordinary meeting of the tripartite, which they want Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek to attend.
Unemployment went up by one decimal point in August, according to
Labour Ministry figures published on Thursday. The number of people
looking for work rose to just over half a million, or 8.9% of the
workforce. The chief economist of Raiffeisenbank in Prague, Pavel
Mertlik, said that despite the increase, the figure was encouraging.
With those leaving school entering the job market, August is
traditionally the worst month of the year.
Inflation figures have also been published, showing that the year-on-year rate for August remained unchanged at 1.7%. According to the Czech Statistics Bureau rises in fuel prices were matched by a fall in the price of some foodstuffs. Consumer prices remained at July levels.
The governing coalition has postponed a meeting of party leaders on amendments to the labour code. A spokeswoman for the Labour Ministry has said the proposals under consideration would bring the biggest change to the labour law system since 1990. The Cabinet meeting, which was to take place on Wednesday, has been pushed by back two weeks so that an inter-party working committee can address some of the sticking points. These include proposals on workers rights that some employers' associations say give unions too much power and would make it far too difficult to sack redundant or unproductive employees. The Finance Ministry has also objected to a proposal that would have the Social Security administration responsible for on-the-job accident insurance, which is now handled by commercial insurers.
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In the months leading up to last year's expansion of the European Union, many member states expressed concern about a potential influx of cheap labour from the new member countries. Most chose to introduce a transitional period of restrictions, while Sweden, Ireland, and Britain opened their labour markets. A British government study conducted last year forecast that between 5,000-13,000 workers from the new EU member states would register for work every year. But that number has been the average registered every month.
The lower house of Parliament passed an amendment to the labour law on Friday that would reward employers who create so-called "socially beneficial" jobs for fresh university graduates, handicapped people, and those younger than twenty-five or over the age of fifty. According to the Labour Office, people of those ages make up one-third to one-half of the unemployed nationwide.
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