There are hundreds of North Korean women working in the Czech Republic under a system in which half of the money they earn is said to go straight to Pyongyang. They have even been described as modern day slaves. After several years of controversy the women will be soon be going home - thanks to international politics, not the Czech authorities.
Among the stories in this week's business news, T-Mobile apologises to 800,000 customers after a database glitch leaves them incommunicado, CEZ says the recent hurricane caused 100 million crowns' worth of damage, Unipetrol sells Kaucuk to Poland's Dwory, and CzechInvest and CzechTrade are to merge.
Forty-three year old Lech Sydor from eastern Moravia was promised a job as a masseur in a rehabilitation centre. When the centre's management found out that he was gay, it refused to employ him. Mr Sydor took his case to court and won. As Dita Asiedu reports, this is a landmark case in the Czech Republic where a court has never before ruled on a sexual orientation discrimination case:
According to a survey conducted by the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily wages in the Czech Republic are expected to rise by an estimated 5 percent in 2007 although the rise in real wages should not exceed 2 percent. The paper polled over 100 large companies which together employ some 300,000 people. On the other hand a survey among Czech managers suggests that wage growth in the coming year will be slightly lower than 5 percent. Trade unions see the projected 5 percent growth as insufficient.
Actors from the National Theatre ensemble are threatening to go on strike alert unless the culture minister sacks the theatres' current director Jan Mrzena and finds a suitable replacement. Mr. Mrzena was appointed to the post on a temporary basis after the culture minister sacked the former director Daniel Dvorak for poor fund-management. Thirty nine of the theatre's most prominent actors have signed a petition asking for a competent and qualified director to be found as soon as possible.
Others figures released by the office reveal that unemployment in the month of November dropped by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.3 percent - the lowest unemployment figure in the last five years. Currently, 400,044 people are listed as out of work. Analysts contribute the drop in numbers partly to, for example, recent graduates finding first-time employment.
The government has decided to raise the minimum wage by 45 crowns to 8,000 crowns per month as of next year. Labour Minister Petr Necas says the decision was a compromise between the demands of the trade unions that called for an increase to 8,500 crowns, and the employers who insisted on the minimum wage being frozen at its current level. Mr Necas said that higher minimum wages would reduce employment opportunities for people with a low qualification. Trade union representatives say the current government's policy will result in further deepening of the gap between low- and high-income groups.
The Civic Democrats intend to call a special lower house meeting to hold discussion on the date when a new Labour Code is to come into effect. Cabinet has proposed to introduce the Labour Code on January 1. 2008 instead of 2007. But Social Democrat and Communist deputies, who together hold 100 of the 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament, have blocked plans to vote on the proposal in Thursday's regular session.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
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Cold War “king of Šumava” story brought to life in new film by Irish director
Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools