Czech President Václav Klaus opened the 38th International Agricultural Fair, Země Živitelka, or Bread Basket, in České Budějovice on Thursday. More than 740 domestic and foreign firms are participating in the fair which this year focused on regionally produced foods. At the opening ceremony, President Klaus said that in the current period of economic crisis and restrained government spending, farmers needed to work more effectively as they could not look to the state for assistance. The Czech agriculture minister, Ivan Fuksa, who also attended the fair on Thursday, told reporters he was not considering the privatization of the Budvar brewery. Mr Fuksa said the time was not right for the sale of the state-owned firm but did not rule out the sale of some five to seven percent of the company in the future.
The Czech-based, German-owned Škoda Auto car maker faces a production stoppage due to problems of one its suppliers, Delphi Packard, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. The company, which supplies wiring for Škoda cars, has announced the closure of its plant in the Czech Republic by the end of May 2011. Its employees have failed to reach an agreement with the plant’s management on severance packages, and are planning to go on an unlimited strike. Škoda Auto had to limit production two weeks ago because another of its suppliers was hit by the floods that swept northern Bohemia earlier this month. Full production at Škoda only resumed last week.
A court in Prague confirmed on Thursday a 15-year sentence for a man who set off a hand grenade in a Prague restaurant injuring four people. The incident took place in a restaurant in the Prague neighbourhood of Karlín in July 2009; 20 people were present in the establishment at the time. The man later said he wanted to commit suicide. The judge said it was sheer luck that no one was killed.
In related news, the Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry is considering removing all restrictions on time-limited employment contracts. Under current Czech labour law, employers can only offer temporary employment contracts for a maximum period of two years. After that, they have to offer their employees permanent contracts. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drabek is now planning to remove the restrictions altogether although the centre-right government’s policy originally only included the extension of this limit to five years.
The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry is considering removing all restrictions on time-limited employment contracts, the news website aktualne.cz reported on Thursday. Under current Czech labour law, employers can only offer temporary employment contracts for a maximum period of two years. After that, they have to offer their employees permanent contracts. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drabek is now planning to remove the restrictions altogether although the centre-right government’s policy originally only included the extension of this limit to five years.
The Czech Senate’s 27 seats, which are up for grabs in October elections, will be contested by 228 candidates, the news agency ČTK reported on Thursday. That was also the last day for candidates and political parties to make changes to the ballots. On average, each seat will be contested by eight candidates; however, 12 candidates will run in the electoral district of Karlovy Vary, western Bohemia, and 11 in a district in Prague. Czech senators are elected for six years’ terms; every two years, one third of the 81 seats in the upper chamber of Parliament are contested.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral of writer Ludvík Kundera in Brno on Thursday. The poet, playwright and translator died on August 17 at the age of 90. He could not publish after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and moved to the village of Kunštát, north of Brno. The community’s mayor said a local school has been named in his honour. Ludvík Kundera was a cousin of the French-based author, Milan.
The Czech Confederation of Industry asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Thursday to reconsider planned changes to the Czech labour code. Speaking after a tripartite meeting between the government, trade unions and employers, the confederation’s head, Jaroslav Míl, said that instead of two amendments to the code the government has prepared, it would be better to introduce one major makeover to make the Czech labour market more flexible. For his part, the head of the Czech trade unions’ association, Jaroslav Zavadil, said no changes were necessary; should the government pursue the planned changes, Czech employees would be worst off in the whole of the EU. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the government would hold further negotiation about the planned changes with all concerned parties.
Former Christian Democrat environment minister Libor Ambrozek admitted on Thursday he had been abusing expenses he received as a Member of Parliament, and used them to build his new family home, according to press reports. Mr Ambrozek, who served as the environment minister between 2002 and 2006 and as a member of the lower house of Parliament between 1996 and 2010, spent 10 million crowns, or around 510,000 US dollars, on his new family house; the daily Hospodářské noviny calculated he must have saved 3.2 million crowns from his salary since 2005 which was impossible without him using MP’s expenses to pay for his new home.
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