Unemployment in the Czech Republic is down to its lowest level in two years, at 8.1 percent in June, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Tuesday. Down from 8,2 percent in May, the unemployment rate has dropped for five consecutive months. The number of job vacancies grew to over 38 thousand with 12 applicants on average per vacancy. In Prague the unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 3,9 percent, the lowest in the country.
Unions, employers and government officials have reached agreement on a piece of legislation that will determine under which conditions people who work in high-risk or physically demanding jobs will be able to retire prematurely without taking a cut in their pensions. Employers will be contributing funds in cases where employees retire between one and five years earlier. The new legislation is part of far-reaching pension reform. As part of this reform, the current age of retirement will gradually be increased.
Police chief Petr Lessy has announced that he wants to put an end to what he calls the ‘artificial inflation’ of police salaries, the daily Právo writes on Saturday. He said that this year, he introduced a new policy under which the total amount of bonuses and other payments beyond the regular monthly wage a member of the police can receive in a year may not exceed 100,000 Czech crowns. Previously, such payments could reach up to several hundred, in some cases even a million crowns. Some high-ranking officers received inflated pensions as a consequence, since they continued to hold and be paid for administrative posts after they retired from active police duty. In some cases, pensions of several tens of thousands of crowns per month were paid out. This sum that widely exceeds the average pension of around 10,000 crowns.
Trade unions are planning a happening in protest of planned reforms in the health sector to take place July 12. On that day, Parliament is set to discuss the new legislation, under which some patient fees would be increased. The happening is meant draw attention to the serious implications of changes in the health sector using humour. According to the leaders of the trade unions’ umbrella organization ČMKOS, some elements of the new legislation may be against the constitution; should it be approved, unions are prepared to take it to the Constitutional Court.
Tuesday’s general strike in Greece rescheduled a number of Czech flights bound for Athens and other popular tourist destinations but did not present serious complications, a spokeswoman for the flight company Travel Service told the CTK news agency on Tuesday. Passengers heading for Greece were alerted about the rescheduled flights in advance, those returning from Greece suffered a several hour delay. The same policy will be in place on Wednesday when the general strike is expected to reschedule 7 flights out to Greece.
Tuesday’s general strike in Greece is expected to disrupt most transportation including air travel, a spokeswoman for the flight company Travel Service told the CTK news agency on Monday. Passengers heading for Greece are likely to have their flights re-scheduled and have been asked to contact the agency for the latest developments. According to the company the strike will affect at least ten flights bound for Greece. Some 2,000 people are bound for Greece by air on Tuesday. The strike is expected to close down airports in Greece from 7 to 11 am and then again from 5 to 9 pm.
An unannounced strike of rail drivers from the private company Vogtlandbahn has brought to a halt rail transport between Bavaria and the Czech Republic. A spokesman for Czech Railways said trains on the lines from Prague to Munich and Prague to Nuremberg would be terminated in Domažlice. The open-ended strike has affected other rail connections as well since Vogtlandbahn operates a number of interstate trains. Czech Railways is providing updated information on its web page.
The civic association IQ Roma Servis has awarded 11 employers with the label “Ethnic Friendly”. Among the companies who were given the label are Frutana Gold, Stavzem and the Museum of Roma Culture. To date, some forty companies and institutions have been labeled ethnically friendly by the civic association. The initiative was inspired by clients of IQ Roma Servis, who frequently experienced discrimination when searching for a job. The initiative aims to highlight employers who do employ citizens of Romani origin and promote equal opportunities for ethnic employees on the country’s labor market. The association has been handing out the label since 2007.
The head of the transport workers’ union KDOS, Luboš Pomajbík, told journalists on Thursday that the transport unions are prepared for a general strike in collaboration with members from other unions. He added that the date was not yet clear. He said that even after a day-long, nationwide transport strike, the government coalition had not properly negotiated with the unions and that therefore, they are prepared to resort to a general strike in protest of planned reforms in the health, social and pension sector. The leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, labeled the unions’ statements part of a long-term strategy for negotiations with employers and the government coalition. He said, however, that future strikes are likely should the negotiations fail to resolve key issues.
According to its own estimates, the Prague Public Transport Company saved roughly three million Czech crowns due to the transport strike that hit the capital last week on Thursday. Most of it was generated by the fact that employees who joined the strike were not paid the full wage for that day, which lead to savings of 4.3 million Czech crowns. The company’s general director, Martin Dvořák, said that he saw this as a great loss rather than a gain, since the mission of the company was to ensure public transportation. Some 3280 employees in Prague participated in the nationwide transport strike, and for the first time in its history, the Prague metro did not run.
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