Monday, June 13, 2011

News 6.13.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Monday, June 13th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has called on the unions to resume
negotiations with the government.

* Trade union umbrella organizations have announced that a
demonstration will be held in Prague on Thursday, in addition to a
nationwide strike.

* The Transport Ministry may take advantage of the Thursday traffic
standstill on Czech railways to repair damaged rails.

* The Prague Public Transport Company has rejected Mr. Klaus's proposal
of how to deal with Thursday's strike, labeling it "unrealistic."

* A German artist has added 81 cobblestones to a Prague street as part
of a project honoring Holocaust victims.

Prime Minister calls on unions to resume negotiating

Prime Minister Petr Necas, in a public appearance on Monday, called on
the country's union leaders to resume negotiations with the government.
He labeled the planned transport strike and road blockades a
transgression into the sphere of politics that the opposition would
ultimately benefit from. While the government was not ready to give up
its reforms, coalition leaders were willing to make certain concessions
to the unions, for example in the area of the retirement age and other
elements of the pension reform, the prime minister said.

The unions have labeled these concessions insufficient and say they are
not planning to cancel a nationwide transport strike to take place on

Union umbrella organization announces further details ahead of
Thursday's transport strike

The association of trade unions, CMKOS, and the association of
independent unions, ASO, have announced that as well as a nationwide
transport strike, they are planning to hold a demonstration in the
center of Prague on Thursday. The deputy chairman of the CMKOS added
that some blockades would be held, and that the strike was not directed
against the country's citizens but against its government. Leaders from
both union associations called on all unions to support the strike,
even if they are not directly participating.

Transport minister may take advantage of traffic standstill to have
rails repaired

The Transport Ministry may take advantage of Thursday's nationwide
transport strike to repair rails across the country, a spokesperson for
the ministry said Monday. Transport Minister Radek Smerda will be
negotiating with the unions on Tuesday to determine whether the
ministry may be able to send repair trains onto the rails to take
advantage of the standstill in rail traffic. The railway workers' union
joined the transport strike in protest of an earlier retirement age,
which is part of a planned pension reform.

President suggests government should be tougher in face of strike

Czech President Vaclav Klaus raised the issue of the looming transport
strike at a meeting on Monday with residents in the Plzen area. The
president charged that the unions organizing the strike (which is
expected to paralyze public transport in the capital and other major
cities and towns on Thursday) were following political aims. The strike
is in protest of the government's planned reforms, which include
changes to the health care and pension systems. The president
recommended that the government take a far tougher stance, saying that
if he were in government or was the mayor of Prague, he would rent
private buses across the country to replace public transport. Mr. Klaus
was in the Plzen area to meet with citizens ahead of his upcoming 70th

Prague Public Transit Company: Mr. Klaus's proposal "irrealistic"

On Monday, Petr Blazek, the head of the transport department of the
Prague Public Transit Company, reacted to the president's proposal to
substitute private busses for public transportation on Thursday, when a
transport strike will hit the capital. He said that the company had
already considered this; however, private bus companies did not have
the capacity to make up for the standstill of public transportation. He
added that this solution was not realistic and that private companies
would never have the resources to replace public transportation,
especially during peak hours. The mayor of Prague, Bohuslav Svoboda,
has not yet reacted to President Vaclav Klaus's statement.

Postal workers' union to join nationwide strike

An independent postal workers' union, the SOS-21, announced on Monday
that their members will be joining the transport workers' strike on
Thursday. SOS-21 members are employees of the postal service's
logistics department. Previously, only the transport department unions
of the Czech Postal Service had planned to join the nationwide strike.
The biggest union within the Czech Postal Service, which counts some
15,000 members, will not be participating, although its chairman said
that his union agreed with the organizers. With 36,000 employees, the
Czech Postal Service is the nation's biggest employer.

Prime Minister speaks on euro adoption

In an interview for the newspaper Financial Times, Czech Prime Minister
Petr Necas said that now was not a good time for the Czech Republic to
adopt the euro. Among the reasons he cited were the uncertain future of
the currency and the fact that three of the 17 eurozone countries have
had to apply for financial aid from the European Union. However, all
twelve countries that became EU members in 2004, the Czech Republic
among them, are obligated to eventually adopt the union's common
currency. Among the newer member states, Romania seems the most likely
candidate for timely euro adoption by 2015. In Poland, the original
euro adoption deadline of 2012 will not be met. It appears likely that
the country may not adopt the euro until the end of this decade.

Population of Czech Republic grows by 3,000

According to data published by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday,
the population of the Czech Republic grew by 3,000 to 10,535 million
people in the first quarter of 2011. Immigration played a great role in
this growth: some 3,800 people moved to the Czech Republic in this
period, 1,600 more than in the same period of the previous year. In the
first three months of this year, 26,700 children were born, while
27,400 residents of the Czech Republic passed away. Compared to the
same period of the previous year, both numbers have dropped. Moreover,
3,200 Czechs got married in the first quarter of 2011, while the number
of divorces dropped by 1,300 as compared to the same period last year.

Artist adds 81 cobblestones to Prague street in honor of holocaust

Another 81 cobblestones honoring Holocaust victims will be added to
Prague's Zborovska Street as part of an international project organized
by the German artist Gunter Demnig. Monday's installation of new
cobblestones is the second round of the project in Prague; the artist
first added his stones to streets of cities across the Czech Republic
in 2008.Under the title "Stolpersteine," German for "stumbling blocks,"
Mr. Demnig added such stones, bearing the name, birth date and date of
deportation of the victim, to cities across Europe. A total of 23,000
of them have been installed to date. The project was inspired by a line
from the Talmud: "One is not truly dead until one's name is forgotten."

Skoda car factory catches on fire

A roof of the car factory of Skoda Auto in the Central Bohemian city of
Mlada Boleslav caught on fire on Monday. The fire caused damages of
about 1.5 million Czech crowns. Thanks to the speedy reaction of local
firefighters, further damages of 300 million crowns were avoided.
Police are investigating the case.


Cloudy skies but some sunny periods are expected on Monday; daytime
temperatures should reach highs of around 22 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Court bans Monday transport strike, so unions plan a bigger one for

A nationwide transport strike planned for Monday was averted when a
Prague court ruled that the trade unions had not announced the protest
sufficiently ahead of time. The transport unions, which are opposing
government reforms, have now rescheduled the strike for Thursday, June
16. While they have lifted an unpopular call to block roads and
highways, Thursday's strike will be even longer than originally
planned, from midnight to midnight, and may extend to other
professions, such as teachers and businessmen. Earlier today we talked
about the situation with political analyst Jiri Pehe, and asked if he
believes the court's decision was indeed a mere political move, as the
unions have charged.

Sports News 13.6.2011

Czech footballers get off to a winning start at the European Under-21
Championships; Czech MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham finishes seventh in
the British Grand Prix; the national handball team has successfully
qualified for the European Championship in Serbia in 2012; Pro MTB
rider Spesny notches up first season win.

Karel Och - new artistic director of the Karlovy Vary film festival

When the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival gets underway in a
couple of weeks, it will offer viewers nearly 200 movies across three
competition categories, retrospectives, and a host of other sections.
The man ultimately responsible for the selection of all of those films
is Karel Och, who, at only 37 years of age, will this year serve as
Karlovy Vary's artistic director for the first time.

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