The governing coalition has postponed a meeting of party leaders on amendments to the labour code. A spokeswoman for the Labour Ministry has said the proposals under consideration would bring the biggest change to the labour law system since 1990. The Cabinet meeting, which was to take place on Wednesday, has been pushed by back two weeks so that an inter-party working committee can address some of the sticking points. These include proposals on workers rights that some employers' associations say give unions too much power and would make it far too difficult to sack redundant or unproductive employees. The Finance Ministry has also objected to a proposal that would have the Social Security administration responsible for on-the-job accident insurance, which is now handled by commercial insurers.
Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan is due to submit a comprehensive report to the government on Wednesday as to how the police force acted this July to shut down a techno music festival known as CzechTek. Scores of police officers and festival-goers were injured when police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the techno rave. Claims of police brutality at CzechTek led to massive protests, mainly by young people, throughout the country. According to media reports citing a leaked copy of the document, the Interior Minister will report on Wednesday that - apart from a few isolated incidents - the police acted within the bounds of the law. Mr Bublan will recommend, however, that special crowd-control ("anti-conflict") police teams be created and that clearer rules of engagement be put in place.
The Czech Republic said on Tuesday it was ready to release some 9,800 barrels of crude oil every day to help eliminate possible market shortages caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Associated Press reported. The state-run Administration of the State Material Reserves said it had not yet received any such request. The agency said in a statement that it was ready to pump extra crude oil to the local market for 30 days.
In related news, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has announced that as of January 2006 it will increase the annual transportation subsidy given to disabled people in light of rising fuel costs. The Finance Ministry is also considering giving a subsidy to trucker and other professionals most affected by higher fuel costs. The price of petrol at Czech filling stations has risen by several crowns since Hurricane Katrina hit the US city of New Orleans. Petrol is now selling for about 32 crowns per litre, or roughly 5.25 US dollars per gallon.
The Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Martin Jahn, although unaffiliated with the party, has been nominated by the Prague chapter of the Social Democrats to serve as their election leader for the mid-2006 Parliamentary contest. The Social Democrats regional committee has yet to approve Jahn's candidature. But he seems certain to head the Prague ticket, as his candidacy was put forth by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, and he enjoys the support of party chairman Stanislav Gross. Paroubek is expected to lead the national campaign, and Gross the contest in central Bohemia.
A Czech couple from the city of Kolin were jailed on Monday for negligent behaviour that resulted in the death of their twin babies. The 35-year-old father and 24-year-old mother had been drinking in a neighbourhood pub until dawn on Sunday morning, leaving the children unattended. Initial reports said the two-month old infants choked on vomit after drinking spoilt milk. Their parents face up to six years in prison.
Clear skies and temperatures in the upper 20s is the forecast for the next couple of days.
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