On Tuesday, employees at Skoda Auto - the biggest car manufacturer in the country - will go on strike, following a disagreement with company management over a pay rise. Workers' representatives at the plant have rejected a proposed salary increase of 13 percent, saying that any rise in wages should also be pegged to inflation and company profits.
Management at the Skoda Auto car plant in Mlada Boleslav offered
workers a pay-rise of 10 percent during discussions with trade union
officials on Wednesday. The unions, who have been threatening to go on
strike alert, have not made clear what the minimum increase they would
accept is. They are set to respond to Skoda Auto's offer on Thursday.
Elsewhere, the company Skoda Steel is to stop using the Skoda name and logo from June. The company will be known as Pilsen Steel.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell to 7.3 percent in March from 7.7 in February, the Labour Ministry reported on Tuesday. The March unemployment figure is the lowest since the beginning of 2004. Strong economic growth and the mild winter are believed to be the main factors responsible. European statistics published by Eurostat suggest that the Czech Republic is relatively successful in keeping down unemployment. The so called "harmonized unemployment rate" for February was 6.9 in the Czech Republic, as compared to 12.8 in Poland, 11.6 in Slovakia, 8.5 in Hungary and 7.8 percent in Germany.
The Czech coalition government last week unveiled a package of ambitious tax reforms and spending cuts. The cabinet says their reform, aiming to reduce the country's fiscal deficit and prepare it for euro adoption in 2012, comes at the eleventh hour. They say that under current legislation, mandatory expenditures would exceed state budget revenues in two years' time.
Visitors to the country's numerous chateaux and castles this summer may be in for a big surprise. They may not have a tour guide at all or one who has just learned about the historical site himself. The reason is that the new Labour Code, which came into effect this year, slashes in half the number of hours in a week that part-timers are allowed to work - from forty hours to just twenty. The National Heritage Institute, which manages dozens of tourist sites around the country, is now trying to find a way to amend the law.
A storm has erupted at CzechInvest, a state body which encourages foreign investment and helps develop Czech companies. At least a fifth of CzechInvest's employees have handed in their notice, after the minister of industry sacked CEO Tomas Hruda on Friday. The Industry Ministry has made a number of accusations against Mr Hruda - claims denied by him, and the staff who have resigned en masse.
The economic daily Hospodarske noviny writes that Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas is preparing a package of measures that he believes would allow the government to annually save 23 billion crowns (over 1 billion USD) on welfare benefits. The largest sum is to be saved on parental benefits and sickness benefits and the government also intends to withdraw social security benefits from people with higher incomes, the paper says. However, the changes will be smaller than was expected, Hospodarske noviny writes.
The idea of corporate social responsibility, which requires companies to conduct business in an ethical manner, has been in the news a lot in recent years. Many firms now talk up their ethical policies as a selling point. But the concept is a relatively new one in the Czech Republic. A conference was held in Prague on Friday on corporate social responsibility to try and redress this balance. Lenka Petakova spoke with one of the speakers at the conference, Vladimir Dobes from the Czech Working Group for Sustainable Consumption and Production, about
In Business News: new figures show GDP growth in 2006 was 6.1 percent, equalling the record set the previous year; the average monthly wage has passed the 20,000 crown mark; unemployment is at its lowest level in eight years; Czech Airlines makes a smaller loss than expected; Czech Railways sees a slight increase in passenger numbers; the road tolling system could be intensified considerably, says the transport minister: and Skoda reveal the newest version of their popular Fabia.
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