Daily news summary News

29-03-2004

Civil servants threaten to go on strike in protest at limited end of year bonuses

The country's civil servants may go on strike to protest against Sunday's Cabinet decision to give them only limited end of year bonuses, in line with the government's fiscal reform plan. Despite protests from trade unions the Cabinet agreed to pay the country's 450,000 civil servants only 10 percent of their so-called 13th monthly salaries, a special end of year bonus which was guaranteed by law in the past. Civil servants say their annual incomes will drop significantly without this supplement to their wages and have threatened to launch various protest actions. At a meeting of trade union representatives on Monday, trade union leaders agreed to call onto all union members and civil servants to go on a one-hour strike after the Easter holiday.

Students launch week of protests

Czech students have launched a week of public protests demanding more funds for the education sector. They argue that under the given conditions the quality of education in the Czech Republic will suffer a serious setback. The lack of funds is already said to be affecting the state of school laboratories, school books and staff. While the majority of EU member states devote an average 1,5 percent of GDP to the education sector, the Czech government has released only O, 7 percent of the country's GDP. The planned protests include marches, public debates and happenings.

Investigators: Christmas tree snapped due to bad wood

Investigators have come to the conclusion that no one can be held responsible for last December's fall of a 30-metre Christmas tree, which left five people injured. The tree crushed to the ground on Prague's Old Town square after a strong gust of wind snapped it at its base. One of the people injured, a 54-year old British tourist, is now in a wheel chair after suffering fractures to both femurs and the spine. A Prague police spokesperson said on Monday that the tree snapped because it was made of bad wood and not because it was not stabilised properly.

Prime Minister Spidla visits Finland

Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has begun an official two day visit to Finland. He is scheduled to meet with the Finnish President Tarja Halonen, members of Cabinet and the country's business leaders. On Tuesday the Czech Prime Minister is expected to present a lecture on what the Czech Republic expects of EU membership.

Four Iraqi children to arrive in Prague for medical care

Four seriously ill children from the town of Basra, southern Iraq, are expected to be flown into the Czech Republic on Wednesday to get free medical attention. The children will be treated as part of a humanitarian programme under which Iraqi citizens are offered free medical care in the Czech Republic. Eighteen children, mainly with heart problems, already benefited from the programme last year. This year, the government has reserved five million crowns for the project.

More police to guard Czech-Austrian border

The South Bohemian Border Police have decided to have more guards along the Czech-Austrian border, in reaction to the increasing number of foreigners attempting to migrate to Austria. A border police spokesperson said on Monday that ever more Chechens and Georgian nationals, sometimes entire families, apply for asylum in the Czech Republic, only to cross the country's border into western European states.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be a sunny day with day-time temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.

29-03-2004