Czech farmers this year harvested just over 637,000 tonnes of potatoes, the lowest yield since the 1920s, the Czech Association of Potato Growers said on Friday. In the 1990s, annual potato harvest exceeded two million tonnes. The historically lowest harvest is attributed to a long-term decrease in the cultivation area which diminished by nearly 11 percent between 2011 and 2012. Farmers now receive between six and seven crowns for one kilo of potatoes while their retail price is about double.
The employees of the mining firm OKD on Friday voted to reject a draft collective agreement and to approve a possibility of going on strike. Some 60 percent of OKD workers took part in the vote, a prerequisite for the firm’s trade unions to declare strike. The north Moravian mining firm, part of the embattled NWR company, has come under pressure due to falling prices of coal. The draft collective agreement included a plant to cut vacation and Christmas bonuses, and conditioned a 4-percent pay rise by meeting the firm’s mining target, among other things. Earlier this year, OKD made some 250 workers redundant; the firm is also planning to close down one of its mine, a move that would cut another 3,000 jobs.
Three senior Social Democratic officials who had attempted to oust party chair Bohuslav Sobotka after disappointing election results have resigned from positions in the party leadership. Michal Hašek and Zdeněk Škromach have stepped down as deputy party chairs while Jeroným Tejc quit as the head of the Social Democrat MPs’ club. The three officials, along with another two senior Social Democrats, attended a secret meeting with President Zeman just hours after the polls closed in the recent general elections, causing a major controversy within the party. A majority of party members have backed Mr. Sobotka, calling for those implicated in the revolt to resign. In a reaction, Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday appreciated his rivals’ decision, and said he saw no reasons for other party officials to quit.
A court in Ústí nad Labem on Friday sentenced two former Boy Scout leaders, aged 21 and 23, to 10 years in prison for rape, sexual abuse and producing child pornography. The court said the two men abused 39 victims aged between 12 and 18 some of whom were members of the Boy Scout movement. The court also imposed a 10-year-ban on working with children on the men, and ordered them to undergo sex treatment. The Czech Boy Scout organization expelled the men from their ranks shortly after they were arrested in April 2012.
The Czech machinery firm Škoda Transportation has won a contract to service trams in the Sardinian city of Cagliari, a spokeswoman for the company said. Under the five-year contract, worth 87 million crowns or 4.3 million US dollars, Škoda Transportation will provide complex servicing of the Italian city’s trams. In 2004, Škoda Transportation supplied nine low-floor tramways and 16 trolleybuses to the city.
The Czech unemployment rate in September remained at 7.6 percent, unchanged from the previous month, according to government figures released on Friday. The country’s labour offices registered over 550,000 job seekers last month, which was 377 less than in September. Compared to the same month last year, however, there were nearly 60,000 unemployed people more. Analysts say the Czech labour market has stabilized but expect a slight increase in the number of jobless people in the coming months.
A spell of unusually warm weather has broken temperature records across the Czech Republic. A weather station in Prague’s Klementinum complex registered the temperature of 17.9 degrees Celsius on Friday, breaking the previous record of 16.5 degrees for November 8 from 1895. In Olomouc, meanwhile, the temperature of 16.8 degrees broke a record from 1928. Friday’s highest temperature – 20.1 degrees Celsius – was registered in Dyjákovice, in south Moravia.
Czech astronomers would like to establish a “dark sky” area near the village of Manětín, in west Bohemia. The area of 315 square kilometres should improve conditions for astronomical observations, and reduce levels of light pollution. The idea has won support from the mayors of eight communities in the area which has one of lowest levels of population density in the country. There are now eight “dark sky” areas in Europe, two of them in the Czech Republic.
The Prague transit authority will on Saturday inaugurate metro carriages designated for singles, the company’s CEO Jaroslav Ďuriš told reporters. The middle carriage on each train running on the metro’s A line will offer single people a chance to chat and meet other singles on Saturdays between 10 AM and 10 PM, Mr Ďuriš said. The carriages will have no special signs; instead, passengers will be informed by boards placed in metro stations. The transit authority, which refers to the cars as “communication carriages”, has backed down on its original plan to designate the carriages strictly for people looking for new partners.
The ANO party, which came second in the Czech general elections last month, will demand the post of the lower house speaker, ANO deputy chair Věra Jourová told reporters on Friday. ANO leaders met with Christian Democrat representatives on Friday to discuss their cooperation in the Chamber of Deputies. Both parties agreed that the number of lower house committees, sub-committees and other bodies should be lowered. The parties also reiterated their positions on the possibility of forming a coalition with the Social Democrats; both parties are determined to either join a coalition government together, or back a Social Democrat minority cabinet.
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