Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský on Wednesday recommended lawmakers to implement changes in several laws relating to the unemployed, foreigners as well as public employees. Mr Varvařovský said that MPs should remove a measure requiring some unemployed to regularly report to post offices. The measure, which was introduced earlier this year in an attempt to crack down on illegal employment, contradicts human dignity, according to the ombudsman. Mr Varvařovský also criticized what he called fast-track extraditions of foreigners at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport, as well as the lack of legislation governing public employees’ labour contracts.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs wants to add an additional 140 million crowns to social services this year. Speaking after a meeting with an association of health care providers, Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek said he believed he would find the money within the ministry and planned to discuss the matter with the prime minister and Finance Minister. The association, which cares for the handicapped, seniors and others in need, says that the current lack of financing means that a number of services will be cancelled. A demonstration planned for April 16 was cancelled as per the agreement.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell 0.3% to 8.9% in March from the preceding month. Analysists contacted by the Czech Press Agency put the drop down to early seasonal work allowed by the good weather, but said the situation on the labour market overall remains poor and agreed that no significant improvement on the labour market could be expected at the time being due to the uncertain outlook for further development. The number of vacancies reportedly rose to 39,000, which is still roughly three quarters lower than in March 2008.
In Business News this week: Czech industrial production speeds up; most Czech companies want to hire employees as contractors; Saturday shifts at Škoda Auto end over labour dispute, the North American brewing giant Molson Coors buys Staropramen; and Prague’s Ruzyně airport marks 75 years since the first landing.
The Interior Ministry is seeking to increase the authorities of municipal police officers in order to cover expected layoffs in the state police. According to the ministry’s proposed legislation, municipal officers would be able to fill some of the roles of the state police by inspecting bars and casinos after hours, conduct drug and alcohol tests and accessing citizen’s police records. While municipal police departments have welcomed parts of the idea, others have warned that the plan could pose problems for small communities, as only around 350 of the 6,000 communities in the Czech Republic have a police presence. The state police has warned that planned cuts to the Interior Ministry budget 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.
Unions and civic initiatives have launched a campaign to push for early parliamentary elections. The aim of the “Stop the Government” campaign is to end the government reforms and force the cabinet to resign. A demonstration called for April 21 in Prague is to be followed by a week of protests in cities throughout the country. Among other things, the unions’ 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, while transport unions have said they are prepared to launch a larger strike than last June.
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.
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.
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.
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