The Czech Republic regularly criticizes human rights abuses in places like Cuba and Belarus. However the Czechs now find themselves the subject of criticism: the United States says some North Koreans in the Czech Republic are being exploited by Czech employers - in tandem with the North Korean embassy - and are forced to work in slave-like conditions.
These days all eyes are on Germany where the football World Cup is well underway. Most would probably agree that football is good business. Good news especially for retailers: football fans are spending more on items such as beer, spirits, food and audio-visual equipment, as well as more time and money in pubs and clubs. But such high profile sporting events also have a negative impact- namely, for employers, especially if matches are held on workdays and in the afternoons.
In Business News: the Prague stock exchange has a down and up week; tax on labour in the Czech Republic is too high, says the OECD; Czech Airlines plans to trim its operations; Prague is taking in more in property sales than in previous years; one of the country's richest businessmen invests in a weekly newspaper; and from next month Czechs will be able to pay many bills at newsagents.
The weekend's elections have produced a perfect split in parliament. If you look at a map of the election results, it also shows an almost perfect split in the way Czechs voted. Throughout Moravia, the eastern part of the country, more voted in favour of the left-leaning Social Democrats, while most of Bohemia, the western part of the Czech Republic cast more votes for the centre-right Civic Democrats.
Czech deputies have overturned a presidential veto of a controversial
Labour Code. The new law, which comes into effect on January 1 next year,
was pushed through the lower house of parliament by the Social Democrats
and the Communists. The opposition Civic Democrats and the two junior
ruling coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union say
the bill threatens the flexibility of the labour market and is
unconstitutional because it gives trade unions too much power, and makes
it difficult for employers to let go of unproductive staff and employ new
In November, over 25,000 members of 51 trade unions flocked to Prague to support the proposed new Labour Code in a demonstration that was the biggest that the country has seen since the Velvet Revolution sixteen years ago.
The Social Democratic Party has called on deputies in Parliament to
support a government draft bill to the labour code, vetoed earlier this
week by President Vaclav Klaus. The bill needs a majority 101 votes in
the 200-member Chamber of Deputies to pass in an upcoming vote. Prime
Minister Jiri Paroubek reacted to the president's veto by saying his
party's MPs were ready to override the decision, but it is clear that
he will need to find support elsewhere if the bill is to pass.
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have already voiced opposition, while Josef Janecek - deputy chairman of Parliament's social policy committee - said that his party, the Christian Democrats, will again vote against the code.
The first time the bill passed it was with support from Social Democrat and Communist MPs.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed the proposed new Labour Code. Mr Klaus said the bill in its current form lacked important reforms and failed to tackle problems facing the modern work environment. The bill was pushed through parliament by the Social Democrats with the help of the opposition Communist Party. Right-wing parties oppose the bill, saying it gives trade unions too much power and threatens business competitiveness.
Ireland, together with the United Kingdom and Sweden opened its labour market to citizens from the 10 new EU members in 2004. Since then, according to Ireland's statistics, some 10,000 Czechs have used the opportunity and come to work in Ireland. Drawing from two years of experience, the Irish Government's Training & Employment Authority has now launched what they term the "Know Before You Go" campaign in the Czech Republic.
Four European Union countries announced this week that they were throwing open their labour markets to newcomers from the east. Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain said they would no longer place restrictions on citizens from new EU members, the Czech Republic included. But there's little sign Czechs are even interested. Take the example of Germany: the country hasn't lifted its restrictions on foreign workers, but does have a quota for qualified Czech workers. Amazingly, just 18 percent of that quota has been used. Daniel Munich is a labour market
The lower house has passed a new labour code, outvoting the Senate which has previously rejected the bill. It has yet to be signed into law by the president. MPs for the ruling Social Democrats and opposition Communists voted for the new labour code, saying it allows for a greater freedom of contract while ensuring necessary protection for employees. Critics of the new labour code argue it will reduce competitiveness and increase costs for employers.