In this week’s business news: The Czech Republics foreign debt has reached 1.873 trillion crowns, a survey finds Czech salaries are above the international average, a shortage of white eggs is likely to hit the country over Easter, the popularity of specialty brews is on the rise and Prague’s Four Seasons hotel goes on sale.
Union representatives walked out of Friday’s tripartite meeting with
government officials and employers after only two hours calling the
government’s austerity measures anti-social and unacceptable. Prime
Minister Petr Nečas has labeled the step a “theater performance” and
said that the unions had already entered the negotiations with the
government and employer associations planning to leave them prematurely.
contrast, he praised the constructive attitude of employer organizations.
The unions have announced a major demonstration to take place on April 21. The government is planning to reduce the state budget deficit as planned despite the fact that economic forecasts for this year are worse than anticipated and has approved additional austerity measures of a total of 23.6 billion Czech crowns.
In related news, transport unions are prepared to go on strike in protest of the government’s austerity measures and reforms. They announced that the strike would be more massive than last year’s transport strike in June. The head of the railway workers’ union Jaroslav Pejša said that the transport standstill would last for two hours and be much more noticeable than last year, when only some trams and metros ceased operating during the strike.
The police have warned of tremendous impacts if the government’s wide-ranging budget cuts go ahead. The current plan calls for a cutting a four billion crown slice from the police budget in 2013 and an additional two and a half billion the year after that. According to an internal police risk assessment reported on this week by the daily Právo, those cuts in practical terms will mean closing a quarter of the country’s police stations and laying off a corresponding amount of the force, some 10,000 police officers. The report warns that that would
The confederation of trade unions has called for a demonstration in Prague on April 21 to protest government cuts and austerity measures. The umbrella organisation’s complaints focus on measures such as increased VAT, slowing pension growth, and the dismissal of public sector employees. School sector unions will likely also protest. The unions are calling on like-minded initiatives to join the demonstration, which is to take place at Prague’s Wenceslaus Square, and have not ruled out strikes and other means of pressuring the government. Union demonstrations against reforms last May drew some 40,000 people and preceded a mass transport sector strike.
The difference between wages and pensions in the Czech Republic is greater than the EU average, data from the OECD suggest. On average, pension payments in the Czech Republic amount to about half of what an employee earned before retiring. The EU average is 57.5 percent. The gap may grow even further since the Czech government is currently preparing a pension reform that would put any increase in pensions on ice for the next three years. In Austria, Denmark and Hungary, pensioners are paid about three quarters of their previous wage. In Britain, the pension retired men and women receive amounts to only a third of what they were earning before retirement.
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.
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.
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.
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