Analysts predict a rise in unemployment in the coming months both due to the end of seasonal work and the gloomy economic predictions that will inevitably result in more lay-offs. The jobless rate, which has stagnated at around 8 percent for some time is expected to climb by one percentage point, possibly more, in the coming months depending on the economic slowdown in Europe.
The Česká spořitelna bank has won a contract to supply cards to recipients of social welfare, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The bank won mainly because it had the highest number of ATMs of all the participants in the tender, the daily wrote. However, the winner has yet to be cleared by the Czech anti-monopoly authority. Welfare cards are to be introduced as part of the government’s social and welfare reform; if approved by Parliament, some 86 billion crowns in welfare and other benefits should be paid through these cards. The state should save up to one billion crowns as it will not pay for the service; the bank will charge recipients fees for all but one withdrawal a month.
Czech doctors and nurses’ trade unions on Monday gave the government an ultimatum to deliver on its promise of raising their salaries. If the health minister does not provide guarantees for a 10-percent raise in salaries of health workers in 2012 by November 5, union leaders say they will launch a new round of protests. For his part, Health Minister Leoš Heger said it was not his intention to back down on the pay rise.
A demonstration is being held in Prague on Saturday to protest government reforms. Some three thousand people gathered at Prague’s Náměstí Republiky in the early afternoon, calling for the resignation of the premier and his cabinet. They then began a march across Old Town to Malostránské Náměstí to attend speeches by politicians and activists. The demonstration is organised by the left-wing ProAlt initiative, trade unions and other organisations.
Trade unions in the health sector have given health minister Leoš Heger until November 5th to deliver on his promise to raise doctors and nurses salaries in 2012. The head of the doctors’ trade unions Martin Engel told the CTK news agency that unless the minister made good on his promise there would be a renewal of this year’s protest actions and mass walkouts from hospitals around the country. In a memorandum signed this spring Minister Heger promised to increase doctors and nurses salaries by 10 percent in the coming year, but there in concern that due to across the board budget cuts in the state sector he might not keep his word.
Czech courts do not have the authority to rule on the terms of employment of clerics, the Constitutional Court has found. In an 18-year-long case regarding two pastors’ termination of employment with the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, the court found that the Czech judiciary would be violating the autonomy of the church if it were to rule on such matters. The verdict overrules those of the lower and the Supreme Court and return. The friars claim that their termination was inconsistent with the rules of the church and the Labour Code and are demanding millions of crowns in back-pay.
The prosecution of five Prague City Hall employees, suspected of having
broken the law on public tenders in the Opencard case, will continue after
a complaint by the defence was dismissed as insubstantial by the state
prosecutor. Charges against four of the five have since been broadened.
five suspects were charged by the police in August: they are suspected of
having signed several disadvantageous contracts with providers and of
breaking the law on tenders in the choice of the company Haguess to
the city travel and service cards after the firm failed to meet all
Prague’s Opencard serves as a transit pass and is also used for other services such as the borrowing of library books. Critics charge that the project – which cost more than 800 million crowns – was drastically overpriced.
The Czech anti-monopoly watchdog on Thursday launched a review of a tender for new welfare cards, a project initiated by the country’s Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. In an official letter to the opposition Social Democrat party, which asked for the tender to be reviewed, the anti-monopoly authority expressed concern that the ministry might have breached the law in organizing the tender. The ministry now cannot conclude any contracts related to the project until it is cleared by the anti-monopoly authority. The government is planning to issue the new cards to welfare recipients in 2012 as part of its social reform.
The unemployment rate in September dropped from 8.2 to 8.0 percent in September, according to new statistics released on Monday, amounting to 475,115 jobless. The news was released by the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs. According to the numbers, almost 40,000 jobs in different sectors are available. The unemployment figures show a higher jobless rate among recent graduates than last year: in September 2010 they ranked 35,313 strong; this year the number is more than 7,000 higher. Forty-three rural districts around the country suffer higher unemployment rates than the national average, among them Most (15.7 percent), Bruntál (14.2), and Děčín (13.2 procent).
Jakub Mareš is one of the operators of the Hub, Prague’s biggest co-working centre. They are a new kind of shared working environment where people whose main tool is their notebook computer can rent a desk for as many hours a week as they need. Located in a former printing factory in the Smíchov district, the Hub features a large open office space, meeting rooms, a bar and lounge area, and even a summer terrace. When we spoke there recently, I asked Mareš (30) why he and his colleagues had launched the project in Prague, and why now.
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