Czech agriculture is facing the worst shortage of labour in its history. The number of agricultural workers and students of secondary schools focused on agriculture agricultural has fallen to a record low, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. Over the past 10 years, the number students in these secondary school dropped from 175,000 to 96, 000.
So-called tax freedom day will come in the Czech Republic on May 29 this year, according to the calculations of the Liberal Institute think tank. It will be the earliest instance of the day of the year on which Czechs have theoretically earned enough income to pay their taxes since the year 2000. The Liberal Institute attributed this to the growth of the Czech economy. Its director, Dominik Stroukal, said that more tax will be collected this year than in 2016 but said fortunately production had been faster.
The average salary of Czech state sector employees grew to CZK 28,393 last year, according to official government figures. It was a year-on-year rise of CZK 1,500 on the average in 2015 and around CZK 800 more than the average for all workers across the economy. The highest paid state employees were court prosecutors while teachers in the regions received the lowest pay.
Public sector trade unions are calling for a 10-percent rise in salaries for teachers, medical workers, arts professionals and other state employees from September. The head of the Czech Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Středula, conveyed the demand after a meeting with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Wednesday. For his part, Mr. Sobotka said the government wanted to increase such salaries from January 2018. The PM said public sector organisations were struggling to find employees and higher salaries would serve as a motivating factor.
Increasing wages, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has made clear, will be a key campaign theme for his Social Democrats in what is an election year; on Tuesday, he suggested with the mandate the government has left he will boost pressure on foreign owners of Czech firms to increase wages. Salaries in the Czech Republic are still seen as generally lower than what might have been expected 27 years after the fall of communism.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he would like to see the minimum wage rise to 40 percent of the average wage from next year. Mr. Sobotka made the comment after talks with union leaders on Tuesday. The average monthly wage in the Czech Republic was CZK 29,300 in the final quarter of last year. The head of the congress of trade unions, Josef Středula, said his organisation was advocating for the minimum wage to increase to at least CZK 12,500 a month from 2018. At present the figure is CZK 11,000.
The Ostrava-based company Vítkovice Power Engineering which is undergoing reorganization under forced administration, is having to lay off around 300 employees. Most of them are currently employed at the VPE Hard daughter company which is being sold off. Vitkovice Power Engeneering had close to 1,500 employees when it came under forced administration in 2016 and is now down to just over 800 with further lay-offs in the pipeline. The company narrowly avoided bankruptcy at the end of 2015 after admitting it had over 700 creditors to whom it owed hundreds of millions of crowns.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic dropped to 4.8 percent in March down from 5.1 percent a month earlier. Some 356,112 people were without jobs last month – the lowest figure for March since 2008. Available jobs counted almost 151,000. Experts at the Labour Office expect the unemployment rate to continue falling in the months ahead.
A strike by bus drivers began at midnight on Wednesday with five regions, mostly in the north and east of the country mainly affected. The biggest impact appears to have been in South Moravia where it was reported that 67 routes were cancelled and buses on another 61 routes reduced. The regional government subsidies 225 routes in total. The strike was reported to be much more patchy in the Olomouc, Liberec, and Ústí regions. The government on Wednesday night offered regions 420 million crowns to boost pay for drivers but this is less than half what might be required. The strike was sparked when some regional operators failed to honour a government promise for minimum wages to be boosted to 98.10 crowns an hour for drivers behind the wheel.
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