The Czech civic association eStat.cz has awarded its annual anti-bureaucracy prize to the Irish people, reportedly for the decision in a referendum to vote against the EU’s Lisbon Treaty this year. The prize is to be awarded to Declan Ganley, the head of an organisation which played a key role in the Irish “No” vote, in Prague on Wednesday. eStat, which has close ties to the Civic Democratic Party, began its award three years ago. The first recipient was President - and Civic Democratic Party founder - Václav Klaus.
Research conducted for the newspaper Hospodářské noviny suggests that one in five Czech firms are considering job-cuts in light of the current financial crisis. The research was conducted by the Czech Chamber of Commerce and set out to gauge the effects of the current global economic turmoil on the Czech Republic. It found that half of the firms questioned were feeling the pinch caused by the worldwide financial crisis. Some 264 of the companies questioned said that they were planning redundancies. A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce said that the situation would improve, however, if the banking sector changed its approach when dealing with businesses.
Farmers in the Czech Republic have called off a planned nationwide blockade of roads after reaching an agreement with the Prime Minister over financial subsidies to the industry. The breakthrough came after a meeting on Saturday between representatives of the Agrarian Chamber and the government. During the meeting, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek offered that the government would make up for a planned four billion crown shortfall in the Agriculture Ministry’s budget. The original protest action was called after the Agrarian Chamber sought an additional 2.8 billion crowns in direct payments, something which the government initially refused. The Agrarian Chamber argued that these subsidies, which are at 90% of levels in surrounding countries, were essential to the survival of farming in the Czech Republic. Monday’s planned protest, would have seen farming vehicles coming to a halt on roads (though not motorways) across the country.
A number of labour unions in the Czech Republic have announced a strike over working conditions in the retail giant Tesco. Specifically, the unions believe that Tesco stores are being under-staffed leaving employees chronically overworked. They say that with the upcoming Christmas season, the situation is expected to get worse. Tesco Stores have defended themselves saying that the striking unions represent only a small fraction of its total 13,700 employees.
Unemployment remained unchanged at 5.3 percent in September, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Wednesday. Analysts had predicted that this figure would fall to 5.2 percent. Employment offices registered over 297,000 job seekers ready to take up a job immediately as well as nearly 140,000 unfilled job vacancies, the ministry said.
Several hundred police officers, firefighters and customs employees demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry on Wednesday in support of higher wages. The unions are demanding a 4 percent increase in salaries next year and want the ministry to approve new base pay charts for 2010 which would do away with the existing discrepancy in wages between officers serving in different parts of the country. The Interior Ministry says Wednesday’s protest action was unwarranted since a solution had been found to most of the problems outlined.
A long tradition of Bohemian glass making almost came to an end on Monday when Bohemia Crystalex Trading, the Czech Republic’s largest producer of glass, was left little choice but to consider closing down all of its four plants due to severe financial difficulties. But late Monday evening, the company struck a deal with its creditors, buying time to seek investors who could save the glassworks from going under. The deal has come at a price: two of its facilities will still close down.
New analysis covering the Czech labour market between the years 2000 and 2007 released by the Czech Statistical Office has shown that the Czech Republic’s average nominal hourly wage grew in the Czech Republic by 41 percent in real terms – from 71.3 crowns per hour in 2000 to 117.4 crowns last year. The latter amount is the equivalent of around 7 US dollars – far lower than western European countries, the Statistical Office has noted, but higher than the majority of countries that joined the European Union in 2004. The highest average hourly wage in the EU last year was in Denmark.
In Business News this week: Czech business leaders, feeling the squeeze of the strong crown, call for a euro adoption target date – not this year, says the government; Prague Airport is shedding a 10th of its workforce ahead of its planned privatisation; the Czech Republic ranks among the worst states in an international study of how long it takes to deal with taxes; the number of debit and credit cards issued by Czech banks keeps increasing; and two Czech firms rank in the first five in a regional Top 500.
In Business News this week: the main Czech trades union body is threatening protests over changes to the labour law – and demanding a pay increase of at least 8 percent; Czech Airlines post a loss but the firm’s chief says things are looking positive; Prague Airport invests in property in order to make itself more attractive to potential buyers when it is privatised; Czech Television is faced with a big bill after failing to pay tax on license fees; and a mobile operator ups the price of its iPhones to prevent foreigners buying them up for resale
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Study: Demand for new flats in Prague set to keep outstripping supply
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal
‘The fat lady sings’: Prague’s State Opera marks restoration to former glory with gala concert