News Employers stand against minimal wage hike

04-09-2014 15:39 | Ruth Fraňková

Government officials, trade union leaders and employers have failed to agree on a hike of minimal wage by CZK 700. Employers have opposed the Social Democratic proposal, arguing that the government and trade unions had previously agreed to a CZK 500 rise from the present 8,500 crowns to 9,000, starting from January 2015. Prime Minister Sobotka said the decision about the minimal wage was up to the government.

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Leaked IAAF data suggests 7 percent of Czech athletes had abnormal blood tests

04-08-2015 10:51 | Ian Willoughby

Leaked data from the International Association of Athletics Federations revealed at the weekend suggesting a high level of drug-taking in the sport also concerns Czech athletes, the website of the UK’s Daily Mail reported. Seven percent of Czechs tested between 2001 and 2012 had suspicious blood samples, it said. Responding to the claim, the head of the Czech Olympic Committee’s anti-doping section, Jan Chlumský, said it was not possible to say at the present time in what way the results had been abnormal. The chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval, criticised the publication of the records; he said media reports on the subject had been sensationalist and that drawing conclusions on the basis of partial results was highly unsound. 

HN: Zeman making Czech Republic only EU state to ignore boycott of Chinese WWII celebrations

04-08-2015 10:35 | Ian Willoughby

The decision of the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, to attend events in China in September marking the end of World War II in the Pacific means the Czech Republic will be the only European Union state to ignore a proposal from Brussels for an EU-wide boycott of the celebrations, Hospodářské noviny reported on Tuesday. A Czech foreign ministry spokesperson told the newspaper that its officials had had to reject a coordinated EU position due to Mr. Zeman’s plan. It is not clear whether the Czech head of state will attend a military parade in Beijing. EU representatives are reportedly staying away from the anniversary events due to tensions between China and Japan and because Russia’s President Putin will be in attendance. 

State prepares list of excess properties for potential sale

04-08-2015 08:54 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech government is preparing the sell off of dozens of excess buildings held by various institutions and authorities. Around 20 state institutions have been told to submit their lists of non-required property by September. Around 600 properties are believed to fall into the category with earnings from their sale estimated at around 2 billion crowns. One of the first properties likely to be sold is a former seminary at Vidnava near the Polish border. It was initially earmarked for use by the prisons service but development plans were eventually shelved. 

Czechs lead in negative sentiment about immigration from outside EU

04-08-2015 08:53 | Chris Johnstone

Czechs stand out as the members of the European Union with the most negative view of immigration from outside the EU according to a survey carried out for the European Commission. Eighty one percent of Czechs perceived immigration from outside the EU negatively, the highest figure in the EU 28. Latvia and Greece followed with 78 percent each and Slovakia with 77 percent. Sweden stood out as the sole country where immigration from outside the EU was viewed positively with two-thirds of respondents saying they were in favour. Across the EU, 34 percent said they were positive about immigration of people from outside the EU and 56 percent were negative about it. The overall figures have changed little since the last survey in the autumn. Surveys were carried out in May and the results published at the end of July. 

Senate deputy chairwoman optimistic about Lety pig farm buyout

03-08-2015 18:05 | Chris Johnstone

Deputy chairwoman of the upper house of parliament, the Senate, Miluše Horská, has said she is optimistic that funds will be found to buy up and close a pig farm at the site of camp where Roma were interned and died from 1942. The comments came during an annual commemorative event near the site of the Lety camp where hundreds of Roma perished due to disease and ill treatment. The closure of the pig farm has been a subject of debate for years. Last year Minister of Culture Daniel Herman promised that the question would be resolved. The director of the Lidice memorial, who also has responsible for the Lety memorial, pointed out Monday that the issue is not just a question of money to buy out the farm, estimated at sever hundred million crowns, but also the demand of the owner for a new site and suitable for the farm to be found nearby. 

State budget surplus at record levels in July

03-08-2015 16:14 | Chris Johnstone

The state budget surplus in the first seven months of the year climbed to 25.7 billion crowns from 22.6 billion a month earlier, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. The figure is a record for July since the creation of the Czech Republic in 1993. At the same time last year, the state surplus stood at 4.5 billion. Two main factors contributing to the level of the recent surplus are around 50 billion extra in incoming EU funds and around 12 billion in extra social contributions. 

German association welcomes commemorations

03-08-2015 16:07 updated | Chris Johnstone

The German Association for Exilees the (BdV) on Monday welcomed Czech and other commemorations in Central Europe of the expulsion of German communities at the end of WWII and recognition of the fact that this was often accompanies by violence. The association made the statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Potsdam Conference at the end of WWII. The association recalled that the Allied powers agreed at the Potsdam Conference in late July and August 1945 to the expulsion of German populations from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland but stressed that it should be done in an orderly and humane fashion. The conference did not legitimize the violence that had started even before the conference began, the association said in a press statement. The statement specifically mentioned massacres of Germans at Ústí nad Labem, the death march from Brno to the Austrian border, and attacks on Germans at Žatec and Lanškroun. A commemorative service was held at Ústí on Friday. Earlier this year the city council at Brno apologised for the death march and expulsion of former German citizens. 

Foreign ministry and Václav Havel foundation agree formula for use of name

03-08-2015 14:23 updated | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the VIZE 97 foundation linked to former president Václav Havel have come to an agreement on use of the iconic president-playwright’s name. The agreement on Monday follows controversy after the foundation indirectly sought a payment of around 30,000 crowns from the ministry after the Israeli city of Haifa named a square after Václav Havel. In future, embassies will inform the ministry of such projects abroad and approval will then be sought from the chairwoman of the foundation Dagmar Havlová. Many foreign cities and institutions have sought to honour Havel by naming benches or places after him. The foundation said it was not warned about Haifa’s intentions. The ministry protested that it was just a go between in the affair. 

Techno party which attracted thousands winds down after weekend

03-08-2015 14:11 | Chris Johnstone

A techno party which attracted around 4,000 people instead of the expected few hundred came to an end at a former camp for immigrants at Červený Újejd around noon on Monday. Those living near the event over the weekend complained of the load noise and disorder. Police did not make any arrests. The local council near Teplice in northern Bohemia is now seeking ways of banning future events. Many of the ravers came from Germany and further afield to the event held on private land. 

Around two-thirds of Czechs happy with situation in life

03-08-2015 13:20 | Chris Johnstone

Around 62 percent of Czechs are happy with their lives with 15 percent discontented according to a survey by the CVVM polling agency. The rest described themselves as neutral. The proportion of contented fell by three percentage points compared with June last year when a similar survey was conducted. The Czech Republic counts as the most contented post-Communist country in Central and Eastern Europe, according to United Nations figures. On the world level it is placed 31st and ahead of Spain and Italy. The proportion of contented Czech dipped during the economic crisis in 2011 and 2012. 

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