Union leaders say they are planning extensive demonstrations in Prague in support of a new Labour Code draft submitted by the Social Democrats, promising significant changes to the labour laws. Union leaders say they will try to drum up support of at least 25,000 in favour of the bill, which has drawn criticism from businesses and entrepreneurs. Areas of contention include greater jurisdiction by unions, and stricter conditions for laying-off employees. The ruling Social Democrats agreed on the bill at the government level despite objection by the Christian Democrats. The draft has yet to be passed in Parliament.
In related news, the Czech Army has said it is prepared to send humanitarian aid to areas stricken by recent natural disasters, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India hit by a devastating earthquake in Central and South Asia, and Guatemala in Central America, hit by Hurricane Stan and resulting mudslides. According to the Army, materials sent to individual countries could include tents and blankets, depending on the situation. Funds for Guatemala are also likely to be set aside by the Czech Republic - but a concrete decision has not been taken yet.
The Czech Republic and Iraq have signed an agreement on a Czech donation
of military firearms as well as uniforms to be used by Iraqis in the
protection of significant cultural sites. The agreement, signed by the
Czech defence minister and the Iraqi ambassador to Prague, will see some
1,500 submachine guns, 50 machine guns, and 1,500 uniforms no longer in
use by the Czech Army, to be donated for Iraqi personnel to guard sites
have been subject to heavy looting and damages since the outbreak of war
in Iraq. The donated material is expected to reach Iraq in several weeks
in a transport delivery organised by NATO. The Iraqi government has
classified the donation as "humanitarian" rather than military.
In total the Czech government has put forward some 78 million US dollars in recent years towards the reconstruction of Iraq, funds used in humanitarian aid, the running of a Czech field hospital in Basra, and the training of Iraqi police.
Frantisek Veleta, the driver of a small truck involved in an accident
last year that killed ice hockey legend and national team coach Ivan
Hlinka, has been given a two-year suspended sentence. On Monday a
regional court found Mr Veleta guilty of not granting right of away,
leading to the collision. The driver has also been banned from getting
behind the wheel for five years. Mr Veleta's defence has appealed the
decision, and will be seeking a full acquittal.
The Czech national ice hockey coach Ivan Hlinka was 54 when he died. He is best remembered for leading the Czechs to Olympic Gold in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
On Monday security was increased at the Czech Republic's two nuclear
power stations, Dukovany and Temelin, after an anonymous caller warned
of an explosion at both plants. A spokesman for the Dukovany plant on
Monday said the caller contacted fire fighters on Sunday evening. But,
police searches at both plants failed to find any explosives or any
signs of tampering on site. Emergency staff meetings were called at
The nature of the extra security measures, meanwhile, has not been specified.
Although there are no reports of casualties among Czech nationals in the earthquake-stricken regions, according to the Czech Embassy, a group of Czech mountaineers are unaccounted for in Pakistan. The group are believed to be near Nanga Parbat mountain, some 300 kilometres from the epicentre of the quake.
The Czech Republic were beaten by the Netherlands 2:0 in Saturday's Group One qualifier, which secured the Dutch a place in next year's World Cup finals. The Netherlands, who have 31 points from 11 games, are certain to finish top of the group. The third-placed Czechs with 24 points cannot afford to lose in Finland on Wednesday if they hope to clinch a playoff berth.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said the Czech Republic could donate 25 million crowns (over 1 million dollars) to the earthquake-stricken countries in Asia. The amount will be discussed by the government on Wednesday. The Foreign Ministry has earmarked 5 million crowns. Czech rescue workers are ready to leave for the affected regions as soon as the local authorities specify their needs. A number of Czech charities have said they are going to open special accounts for public donations towards the renewal of the damaged areas.
A combat Mi-35 helicopter crashed at the Prerov military base in North Moravia on Saturday, while the pilots were practicing emergency landing. No one was injured in the accident but the helicopter was badly damaged. The causes of the crash are being investigated. The Czech military received the new helicopter as part of the repayment of Russia's debt to the Czech Republic amounting to billions of crowns.
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