Leaders of the Czech police and firefighters’ trade unions warned on
Thursday that the austerity measures proposed by the government would
decrease public safety. With the number of police officers dropping by
6,000, response to crime may take longer putting people’s lives at risk.
With smaller budgets, firefighters will not be able to maintain their
equipment, the trade unions said.
The Czech government has vowed to carry out significant spending cuts to bring down the state budget deficit. Czech trade unions are holding a major rally in Prague on Tuesday to protest the planned cuts.
The quality of life in Hradec Králové is higher than in any other city in the Czech Republic, suggests a new survey. Prague came second in the study looking at 50 towns and cities, followed by Pardubice. Eleven factors were considered, including the rate of unemployment, property rental prices and life expectancy. Most in northern Bohemia came last in the survey.
Manpower’s employment outlook survey for the third quarter suggests that job prospects on the Czech market will further deteriorate due to the fact that employers remain cautious about hiring new staff. The vast majority of the 753 employers polled said their present policy was to cut costs and increase the productivity of their current staff.
Czech unemployment fell to 8.6 percent in August, resuming a decline after a seasonal upswing in July when it stood at 8.7 percent, official data showed on Wednesday. The jobless rate grew between November 2008 and March this year as the global crisis hit, then fell for four months before rising in July as fresh school graduates flooded the labour market. Employment offices registered 491,090 job seekers ready to start work in August, a drop of 4,186 against July and an increase of 7,681 compared with August 2009, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said.
The Czech cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the draft state budget for 2011, but stopped short of approving proposed cuts in spending in view of a scheduled meeting with trade unions and employers on September 14th. Prime Minister Nečas’ cabinet, which has vowed to reduce the country’s ballooning deficit and achieve a balanced budget in 2016, has come under pressure from trade unions and the opposition for seeking to push through salary cuts and effect far-reaching changes to the labour code. A protest demonstration has been scheduled for September 21st, but the prime minister has made it clear that most of the austerity measures proposed are not negotiable.
The number of Czechs who prefer being employed has risen over the last six years from 55 to 62%, according to information gathered from the Gallop Organisation at the end of in 2009 and published now by the magazine Komora.cz. The percentage of people who prefer being self-employed has also risen by two percentage points to 32%. In terms of preference for self-employment the Czech Republic is thus near the bottom of scale in the EU in 24th place, followed only by Denmark, Belgium and Slovakia. 45% of EU citizens prefer self-employment on average while 49% choose employment.
The head of the Czech police, Oldřich Martinů, will have to lay off 30 percent of employees at the police presidium by the end of the year, Právo reported on Friday, meaning jobs lost for some 600 people. The police president, the daily said was told this week by Interior Minister Radek John to take the step. The police head will have ten days to decide which employees to let go. The interior minister Radek John also told Právo that while the layoffs were a radical measure, they were necessary as funds for basic items were needed elsewhere. Originally, it was planned that around 20 percent of employees there would be let go.
Members of the Czech doctors’ trade unions threatened on Thursday to resign en masse over the government’s plan to shake up salary scales. The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has proposed to introduce a single salary scale which would see the wages of doctors at the start of their career slashed by 14 percent, while those of experienced ones by up to 40 percent. The head of the doctors’ trade union, Martin Engel, said the only adequate response would be for doctors to resign en masse. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the government would come back to the issue, which is part of the cabinet’s cost-cutting drive.
The head of a police union has suggested on duty officers go easy on demonstrators during a nationwide protest against public sector wage cuts and savings. The head of the Union for Security Forces said officers should where possible only issue remands rather than impose fines or take tougher action. Police and fire fighters have called a demonstration for September 21. Health workers, teachers, off duty members of the armed services and other state employees are also expected to take part. The head of the union also suggested that police refrain from imposing fines for traffic offences that day.
A growing number of public sector employees say they will join the planned anti-government protest action on September 21st. The demonstration originally called by police and firemen’s trade unions will be joined by soldiers, teachers and health workers. They are protesting against the government’s plans to introduce a 10 percent wage cut, lay off employees and amend the labour code in a way that will restrict employees’ rights.