Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has repeated that his government will not bow to pressure from trade unions to water down planned public finance reforms. Mr Spidla made the comments on Monday during a visit to Brno, two days after around 15,000 trade union members demonstrated in the centre of Prague against the planned reforms. The government says it is willing to listen to proposals put forward by "its social partners" before submitting the final draft to parliament, but will not abandon the reform package. The government insists the reforms are essential to prepare the Czech economy for eventual adoption of the euro.
Mr Spidla also told reporters in Brno that the recent growth in real wages was unsustainable. The prime minister said the 7.2 percent growth in real wages in the first half of the year could not be sustained in the long run. He said the growth, considerably faster than that in labour productivity, was depriving companies of advantages against their rivals.
Meanwhile a government official has said the scrap metal and coins dumped outside the government headquarters during Saturday's protest march will go towards public finances. The scrap has been sold to a scrap metal dealer, while coins amounting to a value of 2,000 crowns (around 70 dollars) have been paid into the state coffers. The payment was a symbolic one: this year's budget deficit is expected to reach a record 111 billion crowns (around 3.8 billion dollars).
Prime Minister Spidla will visit Latvia this week, days before the country votes on whether to join the European Union. Mr Spidla will depart for Riga on Tuesday, meeting the country's president, prime minister and other senior officials before returning to Prague on Wednesday. The people of the Czech Republic approved EU membership in a referendum in June.
Former foreign minister Jan Kavan is ending his term as president of the United Nations General Assembly. The Czech presidency of the body comes to an end at midnight on Monday. Mr Kavan will address the UN on Monday to hand over the presidency to the island of Saint Lucia. Mr Kavan's contract with the Czech Foreign Ministry ends on September 18th. He remains an MP for the ruling Social Democrats, and has expressed interest in standing for the European Parliament.
There has been another accident involving a Czech bus, this time in Italy. The bus carrying 22 students and their two professors was involved in a multiple collision on the motorway linking Brescia and Milan on Monday morning. A Czech lorry was also involved. None of the bus passengers was seriously hurt. On Saturday a bus driver was killed and 12 passengers seriously injured after their vehicle hit a railway viaduct in East Bohemia. On the same day a bus driver drowned when his empty bus veered off the road and plunged into the River Elbe. At least twenty people died in road accidents over the weekend, one of the blackest on Czech roads in recent months.
The authorities in the West Bohemian town of Cheb have vowed to crack down on dog owners who let their animals run around off the leash. The move comes after policemen were forced to fire their pistols at two escaped pit-bull terriers attacking an elderly woman. A town official said more attention must be paid to making sure dog owners obey the law. The incident came two days after a baby girl from Nymburk was killed by the family's pet dog, a cross between a Labrador and a Doberman.
Tuesday be another warm and sunny day, with temperatures reaching highs of 26 degrees Celsius in places. Night-time will be chilly, with the thermometer falling to lows of four degrees.
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