Thousands of trade union workers will be gathering in Prague this Saturday to protest against an amendment to a proposed new Labour Code. The bill went through the first reading in parliament but employers and some politicians have been calling for an amendment, fearing it gives trade unions too much power. The trade unionists will be travelling to Prague in hundreds of buses and a special train.
When Czech politicians were convincing Czech voters to say "yes" in the referendum two years ago on joining the EU, one of the things they promised was that Czech workers would be able to find a job anywhere in the European Union. But with the exception of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden, all "old" EU members introduced temporary legal barriers against a feared influx of workers from the east. No such thing has materialised in the three countries that allowed free movement of labour and that's one of the reasons why Czech politicians are
The minimum wage in the Czech Republic will be increased by 6.6 percent as of next January, a spokesperson for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry plans further increases in July when the minimum wage is to grow by another 6.2 percent, according to a government proposal. The minimum monthly wage will be 7,660 crowns (or 311 US dollars), compared to the current 7,185 crowns. The minimum hourly pay is to grow to 45.20 crowns (or just under two US dollars). After the second increase, the minimum wage is to reach the equivalent of 330 dollars.
Union leaders say they are planning extensive demonstrations in Prague in support of a new Labour Code draft submitted by the Social Democrats, promising significant changes to the labour laws. Union leaders say they will try to drum up support of at least 25,000 in favour of the bill, which has drawn criticism from businesses and entrepreneurs. Areas of contention include greater jurisdiction by unions, and stricter conditions for laying-off employees. The ruling Social Democrats agreed on the bill at the government level despite objection by the Christian Democrats. The draft has yet to be passed in Parliament.
Doctors around the country closed down their offices on Thursday in
protest at late payments from the state-run health insurance company VZP.
Around a fifteen hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the Health
Ministry building in Prague in support of the private doctors' strike. The
doctors were joined in the demonstration by pharmacists and dentists, and
by some politicians from the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats.
During the protest there were calls for the resignation of the Health Minister Milada Emmerova, who was blamed for the current cash-flow crisis. Talks between Mrs Emmerova and doctors are to continue after a two-hour meeting on Thursday afternoon ended in deadlock.
Money problems in the Czech health sector appear to have reached a head. Hundreds of private GPs across the country closed their offices for a one day strike on Thursday, ignoring an appeal from the Prime Minister for them to be patient for a while longer. Doctors say the cash flow problem is worse than ever and late reimbursements from insurance companies are threatening their livelihood.
On the eve of Thursday's scheduled doctors' strike, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek called on the private practitioners to cancel their strike. After Wednesday's negotiations with health insurance companies, Mr Paroubek said he expected some accommodating steps from them, too. Private doctors in the Czech Republic are going to strike on Thursday over chronically late payments from the state-run insurance company VZP.
The United Kingdom is one of only three old EU countries that opened their labour markets to the citizens of new member states after last year's enlargement. According to UK statistics, some 15,000 Czechs have registered for work in the United Kingdom since accession in May 2004. Many have found a job to their satisfaction but there are also plenty of those who have fallen prey to bogus job agents.
Eleventh-hour negotiations by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek have failed to avert private doctors' plans to strike over chronically late payments from the state-run insurance company. A working group of officials from the Health Ministry and the insurer were to meet on Wednesday to hammer out a solution, but associations of private practitioners expect little to come of it, and their members intend to shut down their surgeries on Thursday.
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