A special meeting of energy company ČEZ has voted for a change in the composition of the supervisory board. The board will now consist of three members of the Civic Democrat and TOP 09 parties each and one representative from the Social Democratic and Public Affairs parties. The four remaining positions will be left to employee representatives. Martin Říman of the Civic Democratic Party will remain the chairman of the supervisory board. The state owns roughly 70% of the power giant and collected record dividends of nearly 20 billion crowns from it last year.
The government has quashed another attempt by the Social Democrats to push a bill on progressive tax through Parliament. On its web page the government describes the proposal as poorly constructed, unsystematic and running counter its own policy programme. An official statement is expected on Wednesday, but pundits say that in view of the government’s comfortable majority in the lower house the opposition’s chances of seeing it implemented are virtually non-existent. At present there is a single 15 percent tax in place.
Czech trades unions have called a one-day strike next month in protest against a government plan to cut the salaries of public sector employees. Over half a million people are expected to take part in the strike, the biggest such protest since the fall of communism. For its part, the Czech government has reiterated a pledge not to back down.
In related news, October’s unemployment rate in the Czech Republic remained at 8.5 percent, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Monday. Labour offices registered more than 495,000 job seekers last month, some 5,300 less than in the previous month. Analysts generally expected a slight decrease of the unemployment rate; they predict that the situation is not likely to improve much in the coming months, as the economy’s recovery is not as strong as expected.
The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions has called a one-day strike for December 8 against the government’s spending cuts, union leaders told reporters on Monday. The confederation’s head, Jaroslav Zavadil, said employees in the public sector together with other trade unions would take part. The Czech government is planning to introduce a 10-percent pay cut to salaries of public employees. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Monday the government was ready for negotiations; however, it would not back off its plans to cut spending. If the planned strike does take place, it will be one of the biggest protests since the fall of communism.
Czech trades unions say they will take strike action if the government does not accept their proposals regarding changes to public sector pay. The head of the main unions umbrella body, Jaroslav Zavadil, told reporters the form of any such strike would be decided next week. The protest would probably last two hours or longer, the Czech News Agency reported. The workers’ leaders are opposed to wage cuts and a plan to broaden the use of pay scales by amending the Labour Code.
The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, says his government has no intention of backing down over its proposals regarding state sector pay. Mr Nečas said union representatives had rejected all compromise solutions put forward during meetings between the two sides. He said despite threats of a strike, his cabinet would stand by the planned changes. The right-of-centre Czech coalition says next year it will reduce by 10 percent the amount spent on the salaries of public sector employees, as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.
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.
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