The Czech government will meet on Monday to discuss sick-leave benefits after the Constitutional Court ruled last week that the changes introduced were unconstitutional. According to recently introduced healthcare reforms, employees, who previously received 40% of their salary during the first three days of illness, now receive no benefits whatsoever. The court argued that the changed legislation, designed to prevent employees from abusing sick-leave benefits, was unconstitutional because it failed to guarantee an employee’s right to security in times of illness. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas says the ruling is absurd since a similar practice exists in other EU states.
Police broke up a skinhead concert attended by around seventy people in Velký Beranov, in South-East Bohemia, on Saturday night. Over 100 officers were monitoring the event and intervened when one of the participating bands performed a song with anti-Semitic lyrics. Nine people were detained for questioning. It is not yet clear whether any of them will be charged. The rock concert was presented as a private birthday party.
The Association of Czech GPs has expressed support for the introduction of fees for medical services within the health care reforms introduced at the beginning of this year. GPs say that the symbolic fee of thirty crowns per visit has reduced the number of patients who seek medical attention for minor problems, allowing doctors to devote more time and attention to people who truly need it. Doctors keep the money they collect in fees and generally use it to modernize their surgeries or waiting-rooms. The introduction of fees has come under severe criticism on the grounds that a visit to the doctor should be covered by health insurance.
Police are investigating the death of a newborn baby girl who was found in a garbage container in Prague early on Sunday. The police discovered the identity of the mother almost immediately because she was forced to seek medical attention at a nearby hospital. The police investigate cases involving abandoned newborns several times a year and a number of Prague hospitals have set up baby boxes for unwanted children in the hope that this will decrease the number of babies killed at birth.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek of the Christian Democrats has said he would be prepared to accept some changes to the proposed bill on a settlement between the state and churches if it was unacceptable to part of the Civic Democratic party in its present form. However Mr. Kalousek said the changes would have to be discussed with church representatives. Under the proposed bill, which would compensate churches for property lost under the communist regime, the state would have to pay close to 270 billion crowns in restitution money plus interest over the next 60 years.
Eleven children sustained light injuries when two buses and a car collided in Prague’s Hostivař district on Sunday. The buses were ferrying 60 children to a school camp when the accident happened. Many of the children were in a state of shock. Eleven were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. None of the injuries are reported to have been serious. Police are investigating the cause of the accident.
Two people died and three were injured in a fire that broke out in derelict building inhabited by homeless people in the town of Vrchlabí, North Bohemia. The cause of the fire is being investigated. The police believe the building’s inhabitants may have lit a fire to warm themselves, fallen asleep and let it get out of control. The police are trying to ascertain the identity of the dead people.
Seven people were injured on Saturday in a collision between a bus and several cars during the filming of “G.I.Joe” in the centre of Prague. The accident happened in a closed area that was rented out to filmmakers for the weekend. Seven people were taken to hospital for treatment but their injuries are reported to have been light and all are said to be doing well. According to unofficial reports it appears that one of the cars doing a stunt scene had trouble breaking.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bém has said he is considering the possibility of housing the National Library in the Prague Congress Centre. In a debate on commercial TV Prima on Sunday, the mayor said the Congress Centre would naturally have to be reconstructed to meet the library’s needs but it would mean that a new building would not have to be built. The suggestion comes in the wake of months of controversy over the winning design for a new library building by London- based architect Jan Kaplický. The futuristic gold-and-purple design was intended for Letná Plain but the town hall is vehemently opposed to the idea, saying that it would ruin the panorama of the city.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has rejected claims that his ruling Civic Democratic party had betrayed its policy programme. Speaking at a weekend party conference devoted to policy matters, the prime minister said the Civic Democrats had not lost sight of their goal, although they had had to modify their plans in order to accommodate their partners in government. Mr. Topolánek said that in his view the goal justified the means and that his party was determined to fulfil its goal. He said that if his party won the next general elections he would guarantee that in ten years' time the Czech Republic would figure among the top ten EU countries.
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