Czech school trade unions on Friday went on “strike alert” over further spending cuts planned for this year by the Finance Ministry. Under the new austerity measures, regional schools could lose up to 3.4 billion crowns which would mean a drop in salaries by 1,200 crowns per employee, the head of the trade union František Dobšík said. The unions warned that they will go on strike if the government does not reconsider its plans.
Czech health workers’ trade unions on Friday warned against planned
restrictions of access to health care. Union leaders called on Health
Minister Leoš Heger to reconsider the move; in support of their demands,
the unions will stage a rally outside the health ministry building on
27, the head of the union Dagmar Žitníková said.
The Health Ministry is planning to overhaul the system of providing health care so that patients have guaranteed access to all specialists within 40 minutes’ drive from their homes. The unions say however this will drastically restrict health care in the regions, and will in effect lead to the closing down of hospitals, polyclinics as well as doctors’ practices.
In this week’s business news: Czech banks are getting ready to sign off on what could be the largest-ever club deal, negotiations between Škoda Auto management and unions continue, the Czech Agrarian Chamber’s president has said that egg prices will stabilize, the cost of fuel has hit a record high and the American coffee retailer Starbucks has opened its first Czech branch outside of Prague.
A new agreement between South Korea and the Czech Republic will facilitate travel and work stays for Czechs in South Korea and vice versa. The bilateral agreement introduces one-year visas that will give young people the option to work during their stay in the foreign country. Previously, a visa was required even for stays shorter than three months. Czech diplomats believe that these new visas will be in demand and that citizens of both countries will take advantage of this new option. In addition, the number of Czech students in South Korea and South Korean students in the Czech Republic is expected to grow from the current several dozen as a consequence of the improved work possibilities.
Škoda Auto unions have threatened a strike if workers do not receive an increase in bonuses. An eighth round of negotiations with the company management on the labour agreement failed to produce an agreement on Wednesday. The company offered 5000 crowns towards variable bonuses for a defined period of time. The unions say this would mean only the minimum of real growth and demand an incentive share in the company’s record profits. Škoda Auto sold a record 879.200 cars in 2011, which is a year-on-year increase of 15%. The average wage in the manufacturer was 32,000 crowns in 2010, according to the unions.
Welfare benefits will be three billion crowns lower than originally planned due to budget cuts being considered by the coalition government. Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek told journalists on Tuesday that the three billion could be saved by strict checks on whether all necessary conditions for benefits were being met, and by preventing unemployment benefits from being misused. With the ministry looking to cut a total 3.8 billion crowns from its budget this year, Mr Drábek also said he plans to lower operational costs and money earmarked for IT. The government is planning further austerity measures in order to adhere to the planned state budget deficit amid a worsening economic forecast.
In this week’s Business News: the Czech Republic finds itself in a recession; women are earning a quarter less then their Czech counterparts; bankruptcy declaration reach a four year high; computer sales are set to soar in 2012 and a new law is giving the government the muscle to tackle shady employment practices.
Unemployment rose by 0.1% in February, according to new data released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In February, 541,685 were looking for work in the Czech Republic at an overall unemployment rate of 9.2%. The highest rates of unemployment were in Jeseník, at 17.9%, while Prague-east was the lowest, at 3.5%. Weak consumer demand continues to blight the Czech economy, while analysts fear that government austerity measures could increase unemployment levels to 9.5% .
The Czech government is debating continued austerity measures, hoping to save 23 billion crowns in 2012, 42.4 billion in 2013 and a whopping 84.4 billion in 2014. But the plans have been met with opposition from trade unions, who are highlighting that the cuts could lead to as many as 24,000 public sector job losses and include layoffs of as many as 17,000 teachers as well as 3,500 police officers within the next two years. Jaroslav Zavadil, head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions recently called this “a path to hell, which will
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said the public sector must brace for massive lay-offs in the next two years. Speaking at a press briefing held within the Civic Democratic Party’s ideological conference, Mr. Nečas admitted that the planned overhaul of the public sector could leave as many as 24 000 employees jobless –a figure floated by Czech trade unions who have protested the changes. Mr. Nečas said the Czech public sector was overstaffed and inefficient, with some institutions duplicating the work of others.
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