Trade unions have launched a campaign to prevent a 2016 law banning larges
stores from operating on certain public holidays from being amended.
Some 80,000 retail workers and supporters of the law have taken to wearing green bracelets with the inscription “Don’t take away our holidays”.
Currently, stores with a retail space of over 200 square metres must be closed on New Year’s Eve, Easter Monday, Victory in Europe Day, St. Wenceslas Day and Czech Independence Day. On Christmas Eve, they can operate only until noon, and must be closed on December 25 and 26.
The Czech Trade Inspection oversees compliance with the ban, which does not apply to pharmacies, petrol stations, and shops at airports, railway stations and in hospitals.
As Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš defended his government’s decision not to accept even a single migrant at the EU summit in Salzburg, trouble was brewing for him at home. A proposal for the Czech Republic to take in 50 Syrian orphans, has gained increasing support, and the prime minister is being showered with requests to break from his policy and make a humanitarian gesture.
The Czech Republic’s trade unions in health care are set to hold talks with the health minister this week. They have rejected his offer of a five-percent pay rise and insist on a blanket salary increase of 10 percent. If their demands are not met, they are ready to call on doctors and nurses to stop doing over-time.
Trade union leaders have failed to reach agreement with government
representatives on wage increases in the public sector. A deal concerning a
pay rise of public sector employees should be reached by mid-August, the
head of the congress of trade unions, Josef Středula, said after the
meeting on Monday.
Unions are demanding a 15 per cent pay rise for teachers and a 10 per cent salary hike for other public sector staff, including fire-fighters and policemen, starting this October.
Senior Social Democrat Milan Štěch says the party should pull out of a
deal with ANO to form a coalition if it is broken before it can even come
into effect. The speaker of the Senate was responding to ANO leader Andrej
Babiš’s refusal of the Social Democrats’ nominee for the post of
foreign minister, Miroslav Poche.
Mr. Babiš said ANO would not accept Mr. Poche just after the membership of the Social Democrats voted in an internal ballot to enter a minority coalition with ANO.
Such a government would be backed by the Communists, who also reject Mr. Poche as foreign minister. President Miloš Zeman is likewise opposed to the MEP’s nomination.
The chairman of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, says Mr. Babiš had been aware that Mr. Poche was their candidate. Mr. Hamáček says his party have done all they can to reach a coalition deal and have no room to make further concessions.
The latest step in the lengthy search for a Czech government has got underway, with members of the Social Democrats voting in an internal referendum on whether to go into coalition with ANO. However, there is some opposition to such a move within the left-wing party – and the result of the balllot won’t be known until mid-June.
Political leaders, war veterans and members of the public gathered outside
Czech Radio’s Prague headquarter on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary
of the Prague Uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII.
The radio station was the focal point of the uprising and the site of one of the biggest clashes with Nazi forces as citizens came to defend the building against German attempts to retake it. Over 100 people died defending the radio building and hundreds of others fell at the barricades that went up around Prague. Altogether, an estimated 12,000 people were killed around the country.
The commemorative ceremony outside Czech Radio was attended by the Speaker of the Senate Milan Stech, Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová, members of the Union of Freedom Fighters and others. Mr. Stech said that although the uprising had come in the last days of the war it had prevented the Nazis from destroying the historic core of the Czech capital.
The biggest grouping of Czech trades unions, the Confederation of Czech and
Moravian Trades Unions, is focusing on higher wages and a shorter working
week at a two day congress in the capital, Prague, beginning Friday.
The unions want to see a cut in the working week by 2.5 hours. They also want to see a 1,500 crown hike in the minimum wage from January next year from the current 12,200 crowns to 13,700 crowns. The unions point out that past increases in the minimum wage have not dented the performance of the Czech economy, as employers had warned.
The two-day meeting should elect a new leadership for the next four years. The only contender to be chairman is the current incumbent, Josef Středula.