The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has drafted a bill which would allow thousands of miners to go into early retirement, thereby easing the social impact of the planned closure of the Paskov black-coal mine in north Moravia. The gradual phase-out of the coal mine and its eventual closure is expected to place a heavy social burden on a region where unemployment is traditionally high.
For two years now the Salvation Army has been operating a project unique in the Czech Republic –a farm that gives close to two dozen unemployed people work satisfaction and a sense of belonging. The farm in Strahovice, close to the Czech-Polish border, is in a region where unemployment is traditionally high and for many it presents a stepping stone on the way back to a normal life. I asked Pavla Vopelaková of the Czech Salvation Army how the idea of running a farm emerged.
The national unemployment rate decreased in September to 7.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the previous month, the Czech Labour Office said on Wednesday. Compared to the same month last year, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage point. Some 530,000 people were seeking jobs in September which was 6,100 fewer than in August. The number of vacancies grew slightly to over 56,000. The Ústí region registered the highest unemployment level of 10.2 percent; the lowest rate – 5.2 percent – was recorded in Prague.
The head of the board of Czech Aeroholding Václav Řehoř said on Sunday there was no question of reducing the number of Czech Airlines staff who face lay-offs. He said the company was ready to negotiate the possibility of a short period of part-time employment for some of the staff to give them a chance to find jobs elsewhere, but the number of staff to be cut was not negotiable. Last month the company announced plans to lay-off a third of ČSA employees, including dozens of pilots, stewards and ground staff. The stewards’ trade unions have gone on strike alert and are trying to get the decision overturned.
Britain is refusing to pay the Czech Republic the equivalent of 100 million crowns in unemployment benefits paid out to Czechs who previously worked in Great Britain, Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova Tominova told Czech Radio on Friday. Czechs who worked in Britain for years but retained their “centre of interest” in the Czech Republic were entitled to unemployment benefits if they failed to find work after returning home. Since they paid taxes in Britain the Czech Republic is entitled under European law to demand a refund of those benefits. The respective advisory committee of the EC has ruled that Britain must repay the debt, but London claims the decision is not legally binding. The Czech Republic wants to coordinate its steps with Poland and Slovakia whom Britain also owes money for the same reason.
Around half a million Czechs are currently unemployed and with roughly 50 000 vacancies, it is clear that only one in ten applicants will succeed in finding a new job. The situation is all the more difficult for people over fifty, who often look for a job in vain before reaching retirement age. According to Nikola Šimandlová of the NGO Alternativa 50+, which has just launched a new project against ageism, discriminating people on the basis of age is becoming increasingly common:
The Czech Republic’s national carrier Czech Airlines has announced layoffs in an effort to keep the troubled company afloat. The airline will let go around one third of its staff including dozens of pilots and stewards and ground personnel. The move has spurred concerns over the future of the carrier which some say could never recover.
The draft budget for next year, approved this week by the Czech government, projects a deficit of some 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP. Government officials say the budget will allow for higher public investments and hikes in public sector salaries and pensions. But critics argue the budget is unambitious, and a missed opportunity to narrow the Czech public finance deficit at a time of an economic recovery.
The government has approved a 3.5 percent increase in the salaries of public employees, effective of November. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová said the government had saved up around one billion crowns in this year’s budget which was enough to pay for the increase in November and December. The government was originally planning to raise the salaries in January. The wages of some 930,000 public sector employees such as teachers, health care workers, police officers, and others, will increase by an average 730 crowns a month.
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