The government has called for doctors’ unions to call off the threat to
quit en masse from hospitals at the end of the month before it decides
whether to back a proposed pay hike. These conditions were set out in the
cabinet meeting on Wednesday and the deal will be discussed by the
government next week. Ahead of the meeting, members of the senior coalition
party, the Civic Democrats, had accused Health Minister Leoš Heger of
giving too much away. But the minister had been backed by the smallest
government party, Public Affairs, and could have been expected to win
support from his own party, TOP 09.
The government move angered doctors whose unions were due to meet on
Wednesday to give their verdict on the deal. Some have already said the
offer falls short of their expectations. Press reports late on Wednesday
said they had supported the proposed pay rise.
A preliminary deal struck on Monday would give doctors monthly pay rises of 5,000 to 8,000 crowns, ie. a salary hike of 10 and 16 percent. The health minister has also promised that doctor’s salaries would increase by around 10 percent annually until they reach triple the national average. If either side fails to approve the agreement the Czech Republic could face the most serious health crisis in its history, with up to 3,800 physicians walking out at the beginning of March in protest at low pay.
The Czech government on Wednesday named Monika Šimůnková, an expert on child protection, as its new human rights commissioner. The post has been vacant since last Septmber when previous incumbent Michael Kocáb was dismissed. That resulted in some criticism of Prime Minister Petr Nečas and the threat by some members of government advisory councils to quit their posts. Šimůnková is a lawyer and she worked with the Our Child Foundation. She took part in the preparation of laws related to children, children´s rights, safe Internet, domestic violence and nonprofit organisations. She founded the Law Help Line that offers free advice on children´s rights.
Judges will be able to sentence children to unlimited terms of custodial treatment for brutal attacks under a proposal adopted by the government on Wednesday. If backed by members of parliament and the president, the new law could take effect as early as July. At the moment children under 15 convicted of such crimes as murder can only be sentenced to correctional education with the term for that ending when they reach 19. The Minister of Justice said the proposal filled a serious gap since those who committed such crimes were often lifelong deviants.
Last year the number of Czech companies fleeing to tax havens was the lowest for five years according to figures released by the CEKIA financial information company on Wednesday. The number of Czech companies setting up in such havens for the first time rose by 281 to total 11,424. That is an increase of 2.5 percent on the previous year. Many Czech companies relocate to the Dutch Antilles, Cyprus and Luxembourg because of the tax advantages. Favourite locations last year were Monaco and the Seychelles. The Czech government is on the verge of signing two agreements with the British tax havens Guernsey and the Isle of Man to get access to details of Czechs squirreling assets there. The Ministry of Finance says another three agreements are in the pipeline.
Weather forecasters have issued a smog alert for the Moravian town of Třinec where the quantity of dust particles n the air is twice the permitted level. Pollution levels have also been exceeded around Ostrava with warnings that the situation will not improve soon. Those with heart or breathing problems and children have been warned to avoid vigorous exercise if they venture out. Severe air pollution in the area is caused by emissions from heavy industries twinned with specific weather conditions.
The Czech Republic has set itself the goal of landing a seat on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the head of the section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Janina Hřebíčkova said on Wednesday. The Czechs are targeting one of two places set aside for Eastern European members. Romania and Georgia are also competing for the place. The Czech Republic was interested in getting the same post three years ago but, according to diplomatic sources, did not want to compete with Slovakia.
Czechs are bigger consumers of poultry meat, drink less milk, eat more cheese, and are still in the top global league for beer consumption. Those are some of the conclusions of a Czech Statistical Officer survey of Czech trends at the table. Average poultry consumption shot up 13 times between 1948 and 2009, beef consumption fell and pork consumption has stagnated, according to the survey. While Czechs drink less milk, cheese consumption has risen. Fresh fruit is also more available and popular with average consumption rising to 90 kilogrammes a year.
The European Commission has threatened to file a complaint against the Czech Republic and fine it for its failure to have flood prevention legislation enshrined in its law. The Environment Ministry said the warning came as it was about to fulfil Brussels’ demands with new legislation to be ready on Thursday. Neighbouring Austria is facing the same problem. According to the Commission statement, neither Prague nor Vienna had informed Brussels about the full adoption of EU standards as demanded by EU rules. The spokesman for the Czech ministry said its regulation would take effect on March 4, 2011.
In football, Liverpool midfield star Steven Gerrard is out of the squad selected to take on Sparta Prague in the first leg of the two-leg tie to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League competition on Thursday night. The Liverpool captain has been suffering a groin injury and manager Kenny Dalglish has opted to rest him. He has however included 16 year old Raheem Sterling in the 23-strong squad. If played, he would set a new record as the youngest player for the senior Liverpool team.
Czech basketball player Hana Horáková has been voted the best player in Europe for 2010 in a survey of fans and experts organised by the sport’s ruling body FIBA. Fans gave here almost four times as many votes as the second placed player. Horáková captained the Czech team which came a surprise second in the women’s world championships hosted by the Czech Republic last year. She is currently playing for Fenerbahce Istanbul. Four placed in the survey was USK Praha player and Czech representative Eva Vítečková.
Czech Republic opens up to more tourists from Europe and beyond as coronavirus travel restrictions eased
Brno scientists pair with Czech biotech firm to develop healing artificial tears
Facemask requirement eased but new restrictions for area hit by spike in Covid-19 cases
Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
Czech scientists researching molecule responsible for ‘cytokine storms’ – deadly consequence of many COVID-19 infections