Tuesday, June 14, 2011

News 6.14.2011

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

News Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The Czech Republic is gearing up for a 24-hour transport strike on
Thursday in protest of government reforms.

* Trade unions have promised to refrain from actions which would
endanger public safety or damage private property.

* Opposition leader Bohuslav Sobotka has called for early elections
accusing the government of fuelling social tension.

* President Klaus has praised the management of the Sumava National
Park for its radical policy in fighting bark-beetle infestation.

* Czech towns and cities will in future be able to regulate the number
of gaming machines on their premises by issuing special directives.

Country gearing up for 24-hour transport strike

The Czech Republic is gearing up for a 24-hour transport strike over
government reforms. The strike, called by the country's trade unions,
will begin at midnight Wednesday and will affect rail services
throughout the Czech Republic, as well as tram and bus transport in the
big cities predominantly Prague, Brno and Ostrava. Trade unions say
Prague's metro will be brought to a standstill for nearly 30 hours and
traffic jams are expected in connection with planned road blockades of
crucial nodes in the capital. Flights should not be affected by the
protest. The strike action is in protest of pensions, health care and
tax reforms planned by the centre-right government. The cabinet has
said it is willing to negotiate, but trade unions insist that the
concessions offered are inadequate.

TU protest march

Trade unions have planned a protest march through the city on Thursday.
Protesters are to gather outside the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry
on Palacky Square, proceed to the Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry
and conclude their protest at Prague Castle. President Klaus has
strongly condemned the strike saying striking workers should be sacked.

Crisis committee meeting at Prague City Hall

Prime Minister Petr Necas and Interior Minister Jan Kubice are both
expected to attend Wednesday's crisis committee meeting at Prague City
Hall. The meeting is planned for 2pm and will revolve around measures
aimed at mitigating the impact of Thursday's strike. Interior Minister
Jan Kubice warned earlier that blockades would not be tolerated as a
form of protest and that police would be out in force to maintain
order. Prime Minister Necas said on Tuesday that the government was
putting 150 defence ministry buses and minibuses at the town hall's
disposal. Czech Railways has said it plans to rent another 200 busses
to cover vital transport lines.

Trade unions pledge not to endanger public safety

Trade union representatives and Prague City Transport officials on
Tuesday agreed on the observance of certain principles which would
guarantee public safety and prevent damage to property. Trade unions
have promised to bring all vehicles -be it trams busses or metro cars -
to the depot on Wednesday night and said they would not try to prevent
strike breakers or management-hired replacements from manning them.
Privately run bus lines in and around Prague will remain in operation.

Facebook crowd plan their own protest

A group of young people on Facebook have organized their own protest
action against the trade union strike saying they plan to board the
last metro on Wednesday night and refuse to leave it. The organizers
have called on sympathizers to bring refreshments and musical
instruments and prepare to spend the night. The protest group says
trade unions have no right to curtail what for many is a prepaid
service in the interest of a certain segment of the population.

Opposition leader calls for early elections

Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka on Tuesday called for a broad
agreement on early elections at the earliest possible date, saying the
government was fuelling social tension and was unable to cope with the
situation. He accused the government of pushing through socially unjust
reforms and riding roughshod over any opposition to the proposed bills,
saying there had been no dialogue and no debate on reforms that would
affect the lives of generations of Czechs.

Klaus supports radical action against bark beetle

On a visit to the Sumava National Park on Tuesday President Vaclav
Klaus expressed full support for the park management's radical policy
in fighting bark-beetle infestation in the protected nature reserve.
The president said that the cautious policy of the former management
and the Environment Ministry would have resulted in severe devastation
of the region's pine forests. The park's present management, headed by
former prime minister Jan Strasky, has come under fire from
environmental activists and academicians for employing logging and
harsh anti-insecticides to curb the spread of bark-beetle infestation.

Towns and cities will be able to regulate gaming machines

Czech towns and cities will in future be able to regulate the number of
gaming machines on their premises by issuing special directives. Up
until now it was the Finance Ministry which issued licenses making it
difficult for the local authorities to clamp down on gambling. The
Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a complaint by the town of
Chrastava which has long fought to have a decisive say in the matter.

Stress tests show Czech banking sector resilient

The Czech banking sector as a whole is resilient to potential risks and
its stability would not be endangered even in the event of highly
unfavourable development, according to the results of stress tests
conducted by the Czech National Bank. The report says however that in
such a case, some institutions would suffer losses that could require
capital injections from shareholders. Insurance companies are in a
similar situation as banks. They have a high capital cushion and the
ability to generate yields even under unfavourable circumstances.

Manpower Index:more companies recruiting than firing staff

The number of companies planning to recruit people in the third quarter
is double the number of those which have signalled layoffs, according
to a poll conducted by Manpower Index. Out of 750 Czech companies
polled six percent of them said they were planning to recruit
employees, three percent said they would have to affect lay-offs and
over 90 percent said their work-force would remain unchanged. Manpower
says it has registered a marked improvement in all spheres with the
exception of the public sector which is having to affect cost-cutting
measures across the board.


The coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with intervals of rain
and shine and day temperatures reaching 26 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Preparations for strike intensify

Preparations for a day-long nationwide transport strike, set for
Thursday, June 16, have continued to grow in intensity. Along with the
expected freeze of all public transport in major towns and cities
including the capital, a demonstration has been planned in the centre
of Prague. The transport unions have also warned they will send a sharp
message to the government over its planned reforms by using blockades
in key areas.


Modern Czech art masterpieces fetch record prices at Sotheby's auction

More than 200 masterpieces of Czech avant-garde and modern art fetched
record prices at a Sotheby's auction in London on Monday. Frantisek
Kupka's early abstract Movement, created between 1913 and 1919, sold
for 1.3 million pounds, the highest sum ever paid for a Czech artwork.
Monday's auction brought 11.1 million pounds, more than double then
Sotheby's estimated. Other significant works sold at the auction
included Josef Capek's Sailor and Phantomas and Sculptress in the
Studio by Emil Filla. Jan Richter spoke about the action with Czech
Radio's reporter in the UK, Ivan Kytka.


The Vltavan Club, dedicated to the Vltava River and people around it,
celebrates 140th anniversary

The Czech Republic's oldest continually existing association, the
Vltavan Club, has marked its 140th anniversary. Founded by timber
rafters fishermen and other people who worked on the river in the
Prague district of Podskali, its original purpose was to assist its
members in times of need. Since then, much water has gone under the
bridge but on Saturday, the club once again took over the Vltava in the
capital to mark its anniversary with a day-long celebration.


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