Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalousek has warned that the government will
be under no obligation to give its final clearance to a pay deal with
hospital doctors if they do not withdraw their threat to quit their jobs at
the start of March. The comments increase tension over whether a deal to
avert a threatened walkout by doctors will stick. Speaking on Czech
Television on Sunday, Mr. Kalousek said the government was ready to discuss
releasing more money for doctors and pushing through pay increases through
revised pay scales at its regular meeting on Wednesday. But he said it
would not have to do so if doctors did not keep to their side of the
Health Minister Leoš Heger and doctors’ leaders agreed a deal to end the threatened walk out by around 3,800 doctors last week. But that deal has been overshadowed by the refusal of a Prague hospital to take back one of the leaders of the doctors’ protest on the grounds that his post has already been filled with doctors apparently ready to show solidarity with him and stall taking back their resignations.
In related news, the president of the doctors’ union Milan Kubek said on Sunday that union chairman Martin Engel was not apparently seeking solidarity from other doctors after Prague’s Royal Vinohrady Teaching Hospital refused to take him back. He said in an interview on TV Prima that Mr. Engel was putting doctors’ interests before his own. The news conflicts with comments from another union leader on Friday who said that an appeal had been made by the union for hospital doctors to show solidarity with their colleague and not to withdraw resignations already tendered in a protest action to improve their conditions.
The Czech Ministry of Education says it is seeking to pump a billion crowns from the European Union funds for kindergartens outside Prague. The ministry says it is applying for funds under the EU’s education for competitiveness programme with around 4,000 schools in line to benefit if the application is approved. The ministry is seeking the funds for recruiting assistants for children with special needs, as social helpers for disadvantaged children and for extra teachers in some schools. It says it is the first country to lodge a bid to use the funds in this way. The funds could be freed up for use by the autumn at the earliest.
A World Health Organisation survey of alcohol consumption shows the Czech Republic in second place worldwide for per capita consumption, beaten only by the former Soviet state of Moldova. The just published WHO figures give an average Czech per capital alcohol consumption figure for those over 15 years old of 16.5 litres. This shoots up to 26.59 if the results for male drinkers alone are calculated. Moldovan figures come in at 19.2 litres per capita and 32.04 for male drinkers. The European per capita average is 12.2 litres. Whereas beer accounts for 57 percent of Czech average per capita alcohol consumption it accounts for 31 percent of the Moldovan consumption.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech was unable to save his Chelsea side from going out of the FA Cup in the club’s 4th round reply at home to Everton on Saturday. Čech was powerless when Everton clawed their way back to force a penalty shoot-out when Leighton Baines fired in a free kick in the dying minutes of extra time. In the shoot-out, an early save by Čech put Chelsea ahead but Everton came back to take the shoot-out 4:3. Chesleas had been bidding to become the first club in 125 years to win the FA Cup three years running.
The Czech Republic is facing a total of 14 arbitration proceedings for failing to protect the interests of foreign investors, according to the Ministry of Finance. At stake in the ongoing cases are a total of around 24 billion crowns in claimed damages. The Czech Republic has already paid out 15 billion due to lost arbitration proceedings, the single biggest being the 10.6 billion paid out to tv station owner CME for the loss of its commercial station TV Nova. The biggest ongoing case involves a 12 billion crown claim lodged by the Washington Investment Company over an IT contract with the biggest state forestry company.
The Czech documentary film Nesvatbov by Erika Hníková has been awarded a prize at the Berlin Film Festival. The documentary, written and directed by Hníková, was selected for the prize in the Forum section of the competition awarded by readers of the Der Taggesspiegel newspaper. The prize comes with a 3000 euro cheque. The film recounts how a mayor of a mid-sized village in Eastern Slovakia, a former army general, tries to encourage unmarried couples to marry and have children to stop to keep it alive.
Around 1,000 union leaders met in Prague on Saturday to weigh up and decide their next steps in reaction to reforms pushed through by the centre-right coalition government. Top of their agenda was the government’s proposal to sweep in a single rate of Value Added Tax at 20 percent to pay for pension reform. Union leaders have already denounced the step saying that it will mean that main burden of paying for the change will fall on the poor. Union leaders also debated a new labour code, health and wider tax reforms. Union leaders were also scheduled to return to the issue of public sector pay cuts which already sparked a one-day strike in December.
Czech speed skater Martina Sábliková has set a new world record for 5,000 metres. She improved on her almost four-year-old existing record by nearly three seconds cutting the new record to 6:42,66. The two times gold medal winner at the Vancouver Winter Olympics made it clear that she was going for the record at the Salt Lake City circuit in the US, where she set the previous record in 2007. The 23-year-old got off to a flying start and said later that she could not believe the initial times given to her by her trainer. She said tiredness set in later but she said she was able to keep on track thanks to her technique. The 5,000 metres distance is the longest for women speed skaters.
Skier Šárka Záhrobská failed on Saturday to win a fourth Alpine World Cup Skiing Championship slalom medal in a row. At the Garmisch-Partenkirchen event, Germany, she finished 12th. Austrian Marlies Schild took the gold medal. Záhrobská was already 15th after the first round with an almost three second gap to make up. She improved on the second round but was unable to make up the gulf. She won a silver medal at the event in Val d'Isére in 2009. The latest race rounds up a poor start to the season for the Czech skier.
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