A strike by bus drivers began at midnight on Wednesday with five regions, mostly in the north and east of the country mainly affected. The biggest impact appears to have been in South Moravia where it was reported that 67 routes were cancelled and buses on another 61 routes reduced. The regional government subsidies 225 routes in total. The strike was reported to be much more patchy in the Olomouc, Liberec, and Ústí regions. The government on Wednesday night offered regions 420 million crowns to boost pay for drivers but this is less than half what might be required. The strike was sparked when some regional operators failed to honour a government promise for minimum wages to be boosted to 98.10 crowns an hour for drivers behind the wheel.
The US firm Alcentra has written to the Czech prime minister offering to pay at least 500 million crowns for the hard coal mining company OKD. The news was reported by the business server, Euro. Alcentra, part of the BNY Mellon group also though threatened to start arbitration proceedings if its offer was ignored. It is reported to be angered that a state company might get OKD’s assets for just 80 million crowns. The OKD mining company has been in insolvency since last year with managers seeking a strategic investor. Previously EP Industries, owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinský, and a multinational hedge fund were reported to be interested. The government is hoping for a gradual wind down of mining in the far east of the country with a buyer taking responsibility for the process.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Czech consulate in Lvov, Ukraine received almost 4,000 applications from Ukrainians looking to work in the Czech Republic, a number three times higher than the entire number of applications one year earlier. Domestic firms have made no secret of their interest in hiring Ukrainian labour, an initiative backed by the government and also the president. But organization has been a different matter: processing applications has been altogether too slow.
Employees of the second-biggest carmaker in the Czech Republic, Huyndai, will get a pay rise of around 12 percent, the company’s spokesman Petr Vaněk told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday. The deal is part of a collective agreement signed by the unions and representatives of the company’s management. Last year, blue collar workers in Hyundai made on average 34,500 crowns. The average wage in the Moravian-Silesian region, where the plant is located, was around 25,200 crowns last year.
The Association of Regions in the Czech Republic has called on the government to provide regions with funds agreed for bus drivers and transport companies. The chairwoman of the association, governor of the region of Karlovy Vary, Jana Vildumetzová, confirmed the news on Friday after the association’s board meeting, pointing to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s promise the funds would be earmarked. The addenda - approved by the government last year - was to see minimal wages for bus drivers raised by around one-third, to 98.10 crowns per hour (the equivalent of around 3.6 euros).
The Czech Republic is basking in the fact that it has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union, 3.4 percent according to the Eurostat January figure. The Czech national figures are a bit higher, but the basic message is the same. And the good news from the latest forward looking survey from the Manpower recruitment agency is that the Czech jobless total can shrink even further to a record all time low.
A police raid on the country’s second biggest online grocer, which resulted in the detention of 85 foreign nationals on suspicion of working illegally in the country, has thrown light on a much bigger problem. The record low unemployment rate and the restrictions on the number of Ukrainian workers allowed to enter the labour market has led some firms to employ Ukrainians with work permits for Poland. According to a member of the Association of Employment Agencies the case detected last week is merely the tip of the iceberg and in reality there are
Czech employers will make more new hires than redundancies in the coming months, suggests a survey conducted among 750 private companies and public-sector organisations by the Manpower agency. Eight percent of respondents said they would take on new staff in the second quarter while only 2 percent said they would let people go. The director of ManpowerGroup said the labour market had changed to the benefit of jobseekers in the last two years.
The average monthly wage increased by 4.4 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2016, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Friday. Adjusted for inflation, it is an increase by 2.8 percent. The national average for the monthly salary in the Czech Republic currently stands at 29,320 crowns, which is around one thousand euros.
March 8 is International Women’s Day and women’s organisations in the Czech Republic are using the occasion to highlight pay inequality and other issues. One event taking place on Wednesday is a gathering aligned with A Day Without a Woman, an international campaign urging women to go on strike for the day to call attention to the gender pay gap. I spoke to Petra Jelinková from Ženy, one of several young feminist groups taking part here in Prague.
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