The Czech health sector is facing serious problems. Around a quarter of hospital doctors have given warning that they will leave to work abroad unless there are given significant wage increases. The Health Ministry says it cannot meet their demands. The crisis from this standoff is looming in the New Year, the deadline given by doctors. But many of them already appear to be preparing to leave.
Unions representing state employees have drafted their own proposals for changes to the labour code. Unions came up with their proposals at a meeting on Friday called to react to the government’s latest proposals to shake up public sector pay and conditions. Earlier in the week Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he was willing to drop proposed changes to public sector pay scales but would not yield on a demand for a 10 percent cut in public sector wage costs next year either through wage cuts or redundancies. The unions, which have given warning of strike action, will hand over their proposal on Monday.
German and Austrian hospitals are holding a job fair in Prague over the weekend, offering qualified Czech hospital staff significantly higher salaries and better work conditions than they can hope to get in the Czech Republic. The fair comes at a time when many Czech doctors and nurses are actively seeking jobs abroad, fearing that their pay and work conditions will further deteriorate as a result of the government’s austerity plans. Since September more than 3,500 doctors have signed a petition saying they would resign by the end of the year if the government did not increase salaries in state-owned hospitals and clinics.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas met with national and public sector union chiefs on Tuesday morning over their threat of strike action over government plans to cut wages and shake up wage scales. The prime minister offered to leave current wage scales alone but pledged to go ahead with the government’s plans to cut 10 percent off the state wages bill next year, either through job losses or pay cuts. He added that the budget for state employees would not be touched from 2012 to 2014. Union leaders said they would discuss the latest on Friday but some said after the meeting that the government’s latest offer changed little. Unions have already given notice of their intention to strike and must now decide on whether to lift their threat.
Working hours in the Czech Republic are the third longest in the European Union, according to the daily Právo. Citing the results of an international survey, the paper puts the average work week for Czechs at 42.9 hours, with one in four employees saying they work from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The survey, which maps key changes in employment over the last 50 years, suggests that two fifths of employees do not leave the office for lunch breaks and devote an average of 42 minutes to their work in the evenings.
Czech trades unions say they will wait until after further talks with the prime minister, Petr Nečas, before deciding whether to take strike action in protest at planned cuts in public sector pay. On Tuesday union leaders informed Mr Nečas that they were starting an indefinite “strike alert”. For his part, the prime minister said the right-of-centre coalition would not back down over plans to reduce the total amount spent on state salaries by 10 percent next year. While the cabinet is due to discuss the unions’ demands in two weeks’ time, a representative of the unions said on Wednesday that they were doubtful much could be expected of talks with government leaders.
Trades unions in the Czech Republic have announced an indefinite “strike
alert” in protest at government plans to cut the salaries of state
employees. The leader of the main unions organisation, Jaroslav Zavadil,
informed the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, of the decision on Tuesday
morning. After that meeting, Mr Nečas said the government would not back
down over its plan to cut the total amount spent on public sector pay by
percent next year. The prime minister called for more talks with union
The right-of-centre coalition has pledged to balance the Czech Republic’s budget by 2016. It plans extensive reforms of the pension, health and tertiary education systems.
A full sixty percent of Czechs fear losing their jobs, according to the results of a poll by the job portal Onlineprace. The poll conducted in mid-September indicates that only 16 percent of Czechs have no reason for concern in this respect, saying they are certain of their job. Nine percent said they felt very uncertain about their future prospects because of recent lay-off in their company. The exceptionally high degree of concern is attributed to the government’s cost-cutting measures which has led many public institutions and state-owned companies to lay off staff.
Clerks and office workers from state and private companies on Saturday took part in their annual Office Workers’ Rat Race –a mock sporting competition in which they compete in throwing office files or racing down the square on office chairs. All participants must adhere to a strict office dress code and come armed with at least one mobile.
The Czech unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in September from 8.6 percent in August, extending an almost continuous decline over seven months, official data showed on Friday. Labour offices had over 500,000 job seekers in their files at the end of September, 1,000 fewer than in August. There are currently 14 job applicants per vacancy on average. The unemployment rate in the 10.5 million strong Czech Republic has been falling gradually since it hit 9.9 percent in February.
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