20-06-2003

Trade unionsTrade unions Fiasco is the best way to describe the end of yesterday's protests by trade unions in Prague against the proposed public finance reforms, say all of today's dailies. Prague wasn't turned upside down as promised by organizers, because far less protestors than expected showed up. But trade unions promise a higher turnout for new protests on Monday, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES.

The low turnout shouldn't be surprising, comments the daily, it is similar to the way the government has been selling the reforms, without even trying to persuade people of their necessity. Above all: without enthusiasm.

The German federal parliament called today for the abolition of the Benes Decrees, but the news came too late for dailies which report only German Prime Minister Gerhard Schroder's statement yesterday that the Decrees were a response to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. The Decrees, passed after the Second World War, led to the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia - their property was confiscated. "It is important to recognize that expulsion is always illegal, but its reasons came from Germany, and not from other countries," PRAVO quotes Mr Schroder saying.

Flying saves time for meeting the voters, claims a Czech parliament member who flies to his home in the eastern Czech town of Ostrava for the weekend, MLADA FRONTA DNES reports today. He is just one of the members of parliament who use a plane instead of taking the train, all at the tax payers' expense, the daily writes. Not only that flying saves time, but it also allows for the collecting of air miles and pursuing a golden Czech Airlines card for frequent travelers, the daily adds.

A fourth of Czech custom officers will lose their jobs after the Czech Republic joins the European Union, and security at borders will be eased, writes HOSPODARSKE NOVINY. Many of them have already begun to look for new jobs, some even heading for Germany, although according to Customs officials, the majority of them will be employed in financial institutions or by the financial police. The custom officers will leave before the European Union takes away their jobs, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES, featuring one example of a former custom officer who now works in private sector.

The Czechs' membership in the European Union also means that in the future Czech banks will have to approve their request for financial help from the state. LIDOVE NOVINY offers an example of some leading Czech banks which received donations of up to 100 billion Czech crowns.

And finally, while the main railway station in Prague awaits reconstruction and metamorphosis from a dirty and shabby complex into a shopping and entertainment center, the Prague metro network and gas lines could seriously endanger human lives, MLADA FRONTA DNES reports. Not only that the subway is damaged by the recent floods, but also by reconstruction companies workers who don't respect requirements for security at work. Prague could also face the gas explosions, since the town's gas distribution is ancient and the gas is leaking, warns the daily.

20-06-2003