Czech engine drivers are planning to go on strike to protest at a clause in a new Labour Code, which was approved by the Lower House of Parliament earlier this month. The Federation of Train Conductors announced on Thursday that it will be joined by members of ten trade unions that represent engine drivers across the country. The strike is scheduled for March 16.
The new Labour Code has yet to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President. The train conductors say a clause on collective bargaining is discriminating and unconstitutional because it allows employers to enter into agreement with the biggest trade union in the company, without consideration for the smaller ones.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has dismissed claims that the Czech Republic has been interfering with Belarusian internal affairs. The Belarusian authorities say Czech diplomats in Minsk are purposefully causing unrest, ahead of the presidential elections, with the distribution of opposition leaflets. Bilateral relations have been strained, as the Czech Republic criticises the former Soviet country's President Alexander Lukashenko of violating human rights. Speaking at a Prague conference on Belarus on Thursday, Mr Svoboda said the document that Czech diplomats are handing out is a UN Human Rights Commission report on Belarus.
Among those who attended the conference on Thursday were the President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Rene van der Linden, Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, and Belarusian oppision member and presidential candidate Aleksander Milinkievich.
Austria's Environment Ministry plans to host another conference in mid-March on the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant, which is located close to the Czech-Austrian border. The aim of the conference is to discuss ways in which nuclear-free Austria can limit the plant's operation. The Upper Austrian local government as well as anti-nuclear organisations have been waging an unsuccessful campaign against the power plant, ever since it was launched in 2001. Austria currently holds EU presidency and nuclear power opponents are hoping it will promote discussion on nuclear safety across Europe during its six-month term.
Prague's annual trade fair on tourism, Holiday World, opened its doors to visitors on Thursday. Over seven hundred stands representing fifty countries are featured this year. At accompanying seminars, visitors are introduced to topics ranging from internet bookings to exotic holiday destinations. Organisers are expecting a similar turnout as last year when 50,000 visitors came to the show in one weekend. The trade fair comes to a close on Sunday.
British rock musician John Cale plans to spend his 64th birthday in the Czech Republic. Mr Cale is a former member of the legendary Velvet Underground, which greatly influenced the underground scene in Communist Czechoslovakia. He will hold two concerts to celebrate the event; at Brno's Fleda cultural club on March 8 and Prague's Archa theatre on March 9 - the actual day of his birthday.
Meteorologists forecast overcast skies and occasional snow across the country. Temperatures are expected to decrease further over the next few days and will fall two to three degrees Celsius below freezing point by Sunday.
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