The Czech health minister, Leoš Heger, and the doctors’ trade unions reached a deal on Monday evening on increasing the salaries of hospital physicians. The agreement will grant doctors in hospitals in the Czech Republic a monthly pay raise of 5,000 to 8,000 crowns, or between 10 and 16 percent. The minister also promised their salaries would increase by around 10 percent annually until reaching their initial demand for around 70,000 crowns per month, triple the national average. The deal is yet to approved by the government and the unions’ regional branches in the coming days; Mr Heger said the cabinet would pass it on condition that more than 3,800 hospital doctors end their protest and cancel their resignations.
Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger on Monday promised indemnity to doctors who will step in for their colleagues who have quit their jobs. According to a legal analysis by the ministry, physicians who will work extra hours in the event of a health care crisis would not bear legal responsibility for errors they might commit, Mr Heger said, adding the Health Ministry will provide all necessary legal assistance. The analysis, which relies on the Czech labour and criminal codes, should be made available later this week.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas ruled out on Monday the possibility of increasing the deficit of the state budget to accommodate calls for higher salaries for police officers. Some of the Czech police trades unions said they would consider taking steps similar to those of hospital doctors to ensure higher salaries. Mr Nečas said his government would make sure any concessions to the doctors did not lead to demands from other groups in the public sector. As part of the government’s cost-cutting measures, salaries of public sector employees were slashed by 10 percent this year.
The Czech Supreme Auditing Office has filed a lawsuit against the lower house of Parliament over MPs’ efforts to review its accounting, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The office would like the court to prevent deputies from applying their own standards when reviewing the offices’ accounts. The head of the office, František Dohnal, said MPs have to comply with the office’s internal rules. Czech deputies have been trying to review the management of the Supreme Audit Office for several years now, a move consistently opposed by Mr Dohnal who himself have faced accusations of abusing his position.
Around 460 laid-off Czech workers will for the first time receive support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, an EU body that provides assistance to employees who lost their jobs as a result of changing global trade patterns, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The fund will pay more than 320,000 euros to former employees of the multinational food producer Unilever that last year closed its plant in Nelahozeves, outside Prague. If approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, each of the laid-off workers will receive more than 700 euros.
Last year’s grape harvest in the Czech Republic was the lowest in more than two decades, with a 50-percent drop year-on-year, according to data by the Czech Statistical Office released on Monday. The average yield per hectare was also lower, dropping by over 33 percent to 2.87 tons per hectare. The head of the Czech winemakers association, Jiří Sedlo, quoted fungal diseases and changeable weather as the principal causes of the record low harvest. The price of wine has risen by around 10 percent as a result.
Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa appointed on Monday former Czechoslovak prime minister Jan Stráský the acting head of the Šumava National Park. The minister chose Mr Stráský, who has been the head of the park’s council for several years, over three candidates for the post recommended by a selection committee. Mr Stráský’s primary task is to stop the spread of the bark beetle. However, several environmental groups have criticized Mr Stráský for his stance on the issue.
The legendary Czech industrial designer Stanislav Lachman died on February 5 aged 89, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday. Stanislav Lachman, who as a student helped design a railway car for Joseph Stalin, became known for his designs of household appliances made in the 1950s and 60s by the ETA factory. His most famous creations include and the cigar-shaped Jupiter vacuum cleaner from the late 1950s, and a rhomboid-shaped iron from 1968. Stanislav Lachman created around 1200 designs during his career, and was inducted in the Czech Grand Design’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Flying lanterns launched during a pre-Valentine’s Day event in the central square in Zlín, eastern Moravia, on Sunday, set on fire the roof of a nearby building, local fire fighters said on Monday. The incident was the first fire caused by flying lanterns in the region, a spokesman for the fire fighters said. The damage to the roof was estimated at 1.5 million crowns. No one was injured in the fire. The authorities said they would consider imposing stricter rules on events with flying lanterns that have become increasingly popular in the country.
Czech Olympic champion Martina Sáblíková finished third at the World Allround Speed Skating Championship in Calgary, Canada, on Sunday. The 23-year-old Czech ranked fourth before Sunday’s 5,000-metre race, tailing 15 seconds behind Netherland’s Irene Wust. She was paired with the Dutch in the final race but fell in the ninth lap and finished third. Irene Wust took gold and Christine Nesbitt from Canada won silver. Couch Petr Novák later complained about the doping control Martina Sáblíková was subjected to after winning the 3,000-metre race on Saturday. Mr Novák said Sáblíková had to wait for three hours before she was able to provide samples which had a negative effect on her performance on Sunday.
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