A number of Czech cities purposely misuse residential subsidies, according to an analysis of last year’s austerity packages on ghetto areas. The report, which was compiled for the Ministry of Labour, states that some municipal authorities give the donations to families in need to pay the communities own, high-rent accommodation. It also says that some government cuts and reforms have evidently greatly contributed to a slump for entire groups of residents, while others have not affected ghetto inhabitants at all. The analysis was made over the course of last year and observed the effects of cuts and changed made at the beginning of 2011.
Rejecting a motion by the opposition Social Democrats, the Czech Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld part of the government’s health care reform under which employees receive no pay during the first three days of sick leave. The court struck down a similar measure in the past but the government passed an amended version of the reform which the court said did not constitute a major issue for patients. Reacting to the verdict, Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said his party would have to win the next elections to have that piece of legislation removed.
The Czech government on Wednesday adopted an ethical code for public employees. The code requires public employees to report any suspicion on corruption while it also protects whistleblowers from losing their jobs as a result of their action. However, critics pointed out it would be impossible to enforce the regulations due to missing legislation. The Czech branch of anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, welcomed the code as a way of protecting those who report corruption but said the government should follow up with a public service act.
The prison system lacks 1.2 billion for this year, the Justice Ministry reports. The ministry has asked the government to raise its budget by 940 million. However Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has cast doubt on that possibility, suggesting the system has too many employees per inmate. Prison services meanwhile note that the number of inmates is constantly rising and prisons are over capacity. The current budget for the prison system is 7.5 billion crowns.
Trade union representatives will not return to tripartite talks to discuss
planned strike legislation, the head of the independent unions Bohumír
Dufek said in a TV debate programme on Sunday. Union leaders said last
that they would return to the negotiating table with the government and
employers only when there was a new cabinet or the current centre-right
government put the brakes on planned reforms. The head of the trade
union’s umbrella organisation ČMKOS, Jaroslav Zavadil, will reportedly
arrive for talks to be held on May 10, but only to outline the unions’
Representatives are planning on organizing a number of protests – including a strike. The unions most recently called for the government to step down following the splintering of its smallest party, Public Affairs, into a new faction and following the departure of Public Affairs from government. As a result Prime Minister Petr Nečas called a vote of confidence that the government survived with 105 votes in the lower house.
Representatives from the country’s umbrella trade union organization ČMKOS met in Prague on Friday to discuss a nation-wide strike set to take place on May 23rd. Union leaders have said that they may organize an additional union protest event a day prior to the strike. The unions have slammed the government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas for its reform package and far-reaching austerity measures. Last week, union leaders announced that they would no longer be attending tripartite meetings with the current government.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved new rules for hiring staff that deals with the agenda of EU funds, deputy PM Karolína Peake said. The new rules are part of the government’s “action plan” aimed at improving the flow of finances from EU funds; in recent years, the Czech Republic had difficulties securing allocated EU money. The rules introduce new methods for hiring staff and advertising open positions, as well as sanctions for breaching the new measures.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek has allotted an additional 140 million crowns to social services. The preliminary measure, which must yet be approved by the Finance Ministry, was previously agreed upon with the Association of Health Care Providers, which has warned of large scale closings of facilities and threatened to demonstrate. Mr Drábek says the increase should be approved as it involves a transfer of funds within one budget chapter and was acquired through ministry savings.
The Czech government has survived a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament. On Friday, 105 out of 198 deputies voted in its support. The vote revealed that besides the Civic Democrat and TOP 09 parties, the cabinet can also rely on those deputies who quit the Public Affairs party, and at least three MPs who remained members of the former junior coalition partner, which now sees itself as “constructive opposition”. But despite the safe majority in the lower house, the centre-right cabinet might now find it harder to push through some
Trade union representatives and activists from the Stop vládě (Stop the government) movement agreed on Friday on additional protests against the country’s centre-right government, which would build up to a strike at the end of June. Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the trades unions’ umbrella organisation ČMKOS, revealed the news but declined to provide additional details concerning different protest events. He did say that members of both camps would prepare a new coordination centre to prepare activities. Earlier this week, union representatives warned the government that the next protests would “hurt”.
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