Social Democrat and Communist Deputies joined forces to push through a
much disputed new labour code during a session of the Lower House of
the Czech Parliament on Wednesday. The opposition Civic Democrats and
the two junior ruling coalition parties, the Christian Democrats and
the Freedom Union, have expressed fears that it would increase the
authority of trade unions and threaten the flexibility of the labour
The lower house also approved an amendment to the consumer protection law, which - among other things - would allow for entrepreneurs who violate the law to be fined up to 50 million crowns. The maximum fine currently stands at one million crowns. The labour code and amendment have yet to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.
Paediatricians, sexologists, social workers and others involved in child care attended a round table discussion in Prague on Wednesday. An estimated 18,000 children in the Czech Republic have been involved in prostitution, pornography, or were victims of some other type of commercial sexual abuse. This constitutes close to one percent of the country's population under the age of 18 years. According to Eva Vanickova from Charles University's medical faculty, it is up to paediatricians to be more attentive and look out for symptoms of abuse. The health ministry also presented a new information booklet on the problem.
The head of the National Security Office, Jan Mares, has resigned. Mr Mares decided to leave office after a police recording of a telephone conversation between him and a man linked to a corrupt gang was made public last week. Although the two men discussed how they could gain contacts at the Presidential Office, Mr Mares maintains that it was an innocent conversation. The government was scheduled to vote on Mr Mares' dismissal during its session late on Wednesday.
The sacked chairwoman of the Supreme Court, Iva Brozova, has filed a lawsuit challenging her dismissal against the whole of the Czech government. She had previously filed suits against President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. Mr Klaus dismissed Ms Brozova last week at the request of the minister of justice, who said the Supreme Court was not fulfilling its duties.
Later at the Ministry of Industry and Trade the commissioner praised the performance of the Czech economy and the country's approach to the issues of free trade and internal competition. Mr Mandelson also commended the Czech Republic's low unemployment in comparison with neighbouring states and relatively low public debt.
Health Minister David Rath has called on doctors leaders to meet him before a large demonstration against his policies due to take place in Prague on February 24. Private doctors, dentists and pharmacists have called to changes to the system of payments for treatment, and want a halt to bills currently being prepared. For his part Mr Rath says the doctors have no reason to protest, and says the opposition Civic Democrats are behind the dispute.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has the described a boycott of Danish goods by some Muslim countries as a complete over-reaction to the publication of cartoons of Mohammad in the Danish press. Mr Svoboda said the burning of the flags of European Union states was an attack on values important to Europeans. He made the comments after talks with the European commissioner for trade, Peter Mandelson, who visited Prague on Tuesday. Mr Mandelson called for a sensitive and moderate resolution to the controversy.
Star ice hockey winger Patrik Elias has been called up for the Czech squad for the Winter Olympics in Turin, after Petr Prucha was ruled out after spraining his ankle. Elias, who plays for New Jersey Devils, returned from a long injury after the original squad was named by coach Alois Hadamczik. The Czech team play their first game against Germany on Wednesday week.
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