Several Czech trade unions have begun to offer to compensate workers for sick leave, which due to government reforms is now unpaid for the first three days. According to a report in the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny, a trade union in the Czech town of Žďár nad Sázavou will pay its members a compensatory salary of 500 crowns for the three days of sick leave. The paper also notes that this and similar tactics are helping to increase trade union membership in the country. The Czech Constitutional Court recently struck down the government’s introduction of unpaid sick leave, which will be rescinded by the summer.
An employee of the Czech electricity company ČEZ has been charged with defrauding the company and its customers out of hundreds of thousands of crowns. The man, who worked at a telephone advice centre in the eastern Czech town of Plzeň is believed to have used his position to alter the bank details of clients in the company’s computer system in order to transfer refunds by the company to their customers into the accounts of his accomplices - which are believed to have shared the money. If convicted, the man faces up to eight years in jail.
Drivers on the Czech motorway R10 which connects Prague with the town of Stará Boleslav had a series of accidents believed to have been caused by hailstones in the area earlier on Saturday. The resulting pileups have caused delays and headaches for traffic police. So far, the police have documented four separate accidents in a region hit by hailstones, which cause reduced visibility, but have reported no serious injuries.
A special plane from Kabul carrying the remains of a Czech soldier killed in fighting in Afghanistan has arrived in the Czech Republic. Also on the plane were four other Czech soldiers who were wounded in Afghanistan. Waiting in Prague to greet the plane were several Czech dignitaries including the Foreign and Defence ministers. The fallen Czech soldier was killed on Wednesday following a bomb attack in the province of Logar, south-east of Kabul, which targeted a Czech reconstruction team. In March, a military policeman became the first Czech combat casualty of the modern era when he was killed in a suicide attack in Helmand province. Last year another Czech soldier died in Afghanistan in an accident caused by flooding.
Several mothers of the victims of convicted child molester Bohumil Kulinský have announced that they will form an NGO to highlight what they believe was an excessively lenient sentence given to the disgraced former choirmaster. Mr Kulinský was convicted in April of sexually abusing around 40 of his female pupils, but received only a three year suspended sentence. In part, this was due to what the court believed was the good work of Mr Kulinský in promoting the name of the Czech Republic. Several mothers of the victims, who were outraged by the verdict, have announced that they will use their organisation to highlight the case in the international media.
The organiser of a private techno party in the Czech town of Uzenicíce na Strakonicku has apologised to his fellow townsfolk after around 5000 guests gatecrashed the event of Friday. Meanwhile, a number of techno parties have been taking place across the country on Saturday with no reports of serious problems. Techno parties have been in the headlines ever since an allegedly brutal crackdown by police on a festival known as CzechTek in 2005.
Protesters illegally camped out in the closed military area in the region of Brdy, destined to become the site of a US radar base have been visited by two Czech MPs. The MPs from the opposition Social Democrats Josef Řihák and Jan Hamáček entered the closed area, despite the fact that the latter lacked the required paperwork to legally be allowed to visit the area. The MPs stated that the visit was both to evaluate the area and to lend their support to the protesters. Greenpeace activists have been at the site since Monday, demonstrating against the building of the US radar base in this relatively pristine area of Czech wilderness.
The Czech ice-hockey team has gotten off to a strong start in the world ice-hockey championships taking place in Quebec, Canada. The opening match against Denmark got off to a poor start for the Czechs, when they conceded a goal after 31 seconds. However, they came back to win the match 5:2. The next match on Sunday against Russia is expected to prove to be a far greater test for the Czech team.
The opposition Social Democrats have presented two proposals for the abolition of medical fees, which were introduced as part of the government’s health system reform. The first proposal suggests complete abolition of health care fees while the other, compromise proposal, would exempt only certain groups from paying the fees, including children under the age of 18, pensioners without income and disabled people. The two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, have also expressed disagreement with some of the newly introduced fees. The Czech Parliament’s lower house should discuss the proposals in June.
The Czech government held back information on the incident in Afghanistan before the vote on sending special troops to the country, opposition Social Democrat MP Lubomír Zaorálek said on Friday. He added that the cabinet acted in variance with the constitution by concealing information from deputies. Just a few hours before news of Wednesday’s attack, the lower house of the Czech parliament voted to send more troops to Afghanistan. Around 100 members of a special forces unit are to be sent to the war-torn state. There are currently around 400 Czech soldiers operating in Afghanistan.
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