The city of Ostrava - capital of the country's northeast Moravia-Silesia region - was bracing itself for a huge demonstration on Thursday, as union members arrived to protest at crippling unemployment and continuing economic decline. The region - once known as the steel heart of Czechoslovakia - employed tens of thousands of people in heavy industry before 1989. Today, the industrial giants are on their knees, and the people of Ostrava say they've been left on the scrapheap. The figures seem to back that up: more than 100,000 people are now out
Europe has been recently paralysed by a series of strong protests: last week trade unions in France tried to draw their government's attention to consequences resulting from the planned pension reform; and on Tuesday, European Commission officials in Brussels protested against the proposed change of the retirement age limit that will be prolonged from today's sixty to sixty three years. The Czech Republic, too, is gearing up for mass protests in connection with planned pension and fiscal reforms.
The Czech governing coalition on Sunday confirmed its fiscal reform proposal from last week, despite angry protests by trade unions. The reform envisages higher excise and VAT tax, lower corporate income tax, slower growth in state employees' salaries and lower social payments. Earlier today Daniela Lazarova spoke with Zdenek Malek, Vice-President of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions to find out what the trade unions' current position is:
In this week's economics report we take a look at the current labor dispute at the national air carrier Czech Airlines (CSA). As if the war in Iraq and the fear of SARS around the world isn't enough to shrink business for airlines, CSA now has to deal with a labor dispute between management and the pilots' association. The dispute between the two parties took a turn for the worse last Wednesday when pilots' commenced a work slow-down because of a deadlock in negotiations. The major roadblock is the issue of new contracts for CSA pilots', the pilots'
The European Trade Union Confederation, which makes up the largest confederation of trade unions in the world, will be holding its tenth annual congress here in Prague in late May. This is the first time that the congress will be held in a former communist country. John Monks is the general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress in Britain, and also the future president of the European Trade Union Confederation.