The number of foreigners working in Czech households is on the rise, although there are few exact statistics about this relatively unofficial economic sector. More and more Czechs hire part-time cleaners and live-in nannies from Ukraine, Belarus, the Philippines and many other countries. What happens to them behind closed doors, though, is not a topic many like to talk about. A new NGO campaign to draw attention to the rights of migrant domestic workers decided to take an unusual approach to the matter – recruiting a big-shot ad agency and a glitzy
The Czech unemployment rate in September remained at 7.6 percent, unchanged from the previous month, according to government figures released on Friday. The country’s labour offices registered over 550,000 job seekers last month, which was 377 less than in September. Compared to the same month last year, however, there were nearly 60,000 unemployed people more. Analysts say the Czech labour market has stabilized but expect a slight increase in the number of jobless people in the coming months.
The employees of the mining firm OKD on Friday voted to reject a draft collective agreement and to approve a possibility of going on strike. Some 60 percent of OKD workers took part in the vote, a prerequisite for the firm’s trade unions to declare strike. The north Moravian mining firm, part of the embattled NWR company, has come under pressure due to falling prices of coal. The draft collective agreement included a plant to cut vacation and Christmas bonuses, and conditioned a 4-percent pay rise by meeting the firm’s mining target, among other things. Earlier this year, OKD made some 250 workers redundant; the firm is also planning to close down one of its mine, a move that would cut another 3,000 jobs.
The interim prime minister, Jiří Rusnok, has ordered his ministers not to make any more dismissals of senior civil servants without his approval, Hospodářské noviny reported. Mr. Rusnok told the newspaper that stability was required. In less than four months since the caretaker cabinet was installed, ministers have replaced close to 100 deputies and managers. There has been speculation Mr. Rusnok’s team will remain in place until the New Year, when an elected government would be appointed.
The Czech Republic is said to have one of the highest levels of slavery in Europe. According to the first edition of the Global Slavery Index, compiled by Australia’s Walk Free Foundation, the country ranks third in Europe with some 38,000 persons believed to face severe exploitation. The authors of the survey admit the figures are just rough estimates, but many Czech experts agree the country needs to address forced labour, human trafficking and similar issues much more effectively.
The Czech Republic may lose at least 1.1 billion crowns from EU structural funds, because of the failure of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry to use up the money allocated to the Human Resources and Employment program. The outgoing Labor Minister František Koníček told journalists on Monday that part of the undrawn funds could be used by the Interior Ministry. Some of the problems with drawing EU funds developed as a result of some of the projects, such as for example the social benefits S-Card project, having been stopped or changed.
The person most likely to become the Czech Republic’s next finance minister has set off a debate about the country’s foreign policy priorities. Speaking at an economic forum, Jan Mládek of the Social Democrats said criticism of Russia and China could cost thousands of Czech jobs. Critics say human rights have to come before exports.
Trade unions in the country’s largest coal mining company OKD have gone on strike alert in protest against the conditions of a proposed collective agreement for 2014-2018. The proposed agreement was put forward by a government mediator after year-long negotiations between trade unions and employers failed to produce results. The head of trade unions at the Paskov mine, which is slated for closure next year, said the strike alert would remain in place until an agreement is reached.
Four Skoda Auto managers have reportedly been dismissed without warning, according to the internet news site idnes. According to the news source they include the head of sales in the Czech Republic and the head of customer services. A Skoda spokesman confirmed the report, saying all four had been denied entry to the company headquarters and were officially “on leave”. Neither the company nor the four managers have commented on the development.
The head of the government’s human rights department Monika Šimůnková has been dismissed from office for allegedly violating internal regulations. She is to be replaced by the current head of the government’s agency for social integration Martin Šimáček. Ms. Šimůnková, who was dismissed by the head of the government’s office, has denied any wrongdoing and told reporters she would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok on Wednesday. She retains the post of the government’s human rights commissioner for which she is directly answerable to the prime minister. The internet news site which broke the story aktualne.cz has suggested her dismissal might be linked to reports that she resisted efforts to radically reduce the government’s human rights section which currently employs about 50 people.
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