In Business News this week: a new green card scheme is set to make it easier for foreign workers to fill gaps in the Czech labour market; moves are planned to increase the number of part-time jobs available in the Czech Republic; Prague and Brno get new low-cost air routes; job security comes ahead of career development for most Czech workers, suggests a new survey; the strength of the crown is said to be hitting sales of crystal and costume jewellery; and food, drink and tobacco are still considerably cheaper in the Czech Republic than the EU
In Business News this week: Czechs now earn 79 percent of the European Union average per capita gross domestic product; the unemployment rate falls slightly to 6.3 percent; as employers complain they cannot find staff, the Labour Ministry says the number of foreigners working legally in the Czech Republic has more than doubled; Czechs are signing up for mortgages in ever increasing numbers; and Czechs are buying more cars - but fewer Skodas.
Czech unemployment fell to 6.3 percent in June from May's 6.4 percent, a record low since the new calculation procedure was introduced in July 2004, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said on Wednesday. The number of unemployed capable of taking up work immediately fell by 6,769 to 346,835 in June, the ministry added. The figure is in line with most analysts expectations.
The government's reform package has also come under fire from Czech trade unions who met on Monday to debate further action against the government's planned reforms. Unions say that the proposed reforms are unjust and would hurt middle and lower income groups, while benefiting the rich. The association's chairman Milan Stech said after Monday's meeting that a general strike could not be ruled out if the government remained deaf to criticism. In the meantime trade unions are expected to put more pressure on the government and parliament deputies.
The association of Czech labour unions will meet on Monday to determine what further action should be taken against the financial reforms planned by the Czech government. Labour union activists already held a demonstration against the reforms on 23rd June when several thousands of them gathered in Prague. Labour unions say the reforms, aimed to reorganize taxation, social benefits and health care payments, are unjust. Radical members of the labour union association even wish to go on general strike to prevent the adoption of the reforms.
Czech Railways has warned that a planned strike by German train drivers on Tuesday could affect passengers in the Czech Republic. According to a Czech railways spokesman the strike is planned from 5am to 9 am on Tuesday which means that trains from Germany could be delayed in the course of the morning. Close to half of Germany's 20,000 train drivers are expected to join the strike in support of higher wages.
In Business News: the government has distributed 700 million crowns to finance EU presidency preparations, Czech companies are hoping to contribute to the modernisation of Bulgaria's railways, the Czech power giant CEZ is hoping to become a strategic partner in a Romanian power plant modernisation project, roughly one in three Czechs are working in the industrial sector, a new poll suggests that three in four entrepreneurs has to deal with corruption.
Tens of thousands of trade union members took to the streets of Prague on Saturday to protest against the government's planned reform package. The crowd gathered in Prague's Zizkov district and marched to the city's Wenceslas Square, where it declared to the public that the reforms will benefit the rich and harm the middle and lower income classes. Dita Asiedu looks at the workers' reservations and asks whether they are founded:
The CMKOS umbrella trade union group has sent Czech MPs a list of its objections to a proposed financial reform package, which is being discussed by parliament. The union is opposed to the extensive tax and social welfare reforms, which the government says is necessary to reduce the public deficit. Several thousand union members are expected to attend a demonstration against the reforms on Wenceslas Square on Saturday.
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