Fire services from around the Czech Republic were presented with 40 new fire units at a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday. The fire engines have a combined value of almost CZK 200 million and represent the biggest single purchase in the history of the Czech fire officers union. The new fire units will be transferred from professional to volunteer brigades in five years time, when they are expected to have become slightly outdated for the purposes of full-time fire fighters.
The minister of labour and social affairs, Petr Necas, is planning significant reform of the Czech Labour Code, the news website iHNed.cz reported. Mr Necas wants to make it easier for both employers and employees to terminate contracts. His plans also envisage cutting the period of notice from three to two months and extending the trial period beyond the current three months. On top of that, Minister Necas is targeting the jobless who turn down offers of retraining or short-term work – under his reform plans such a refusal would mean the unemployed would lose all benefits. Furthermore, social welfare payments would gradually decrease the longer somebody is out of work.
Czech law should be changed to give the government the power to shut down the country’s mobile telephone networks in the case of a terrorist attack, the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, said on Tuesday. Speaking after a meeting of the government’s security council, Mr Langer said, however, that such a move should only be made under the strictest of conditions. The security council discussed among other things the state’s anti-terrorism plan for the period until 2009.
The former secretary of Jiri Cunek is taking the Czech Republic to the European Court of Human Rights in Starsbourg, Pravo reported. Marcela Urbanova was the chief witness in an investigation into alleged corruption on the part of the Christian Democrats leader; she alleges that state bodies did not proceed correctly in the matter and did not treat her fairly. Ms Urbanova’s lawyer said her client was seeking 10,000 euros in damages. Mr Cunek stepped down as deputy prime minister and minister for regional development because of the investigation, which has now been dropped definitively.
A new opinion poll puts the opposition Social Democrats some way in front of the Civic Democrats, the largest party in the governing coalition. The survey, conducted by the STEM agency at the start of this month, suggests the Social Democrats have 33 percent support, with the Civic Democrats on 24.5. The Communists came third in the poll, with almost 12 percent of respondents saying they would vote for them.
The car maker Skoda Auto expects to make a record net profit of CZK 15 billion this year, the chairman of the company’s board Reinhard Jung told the iHNed.cz news website. Skoda’s revenues for 2007 should reach almost CZK 230 billion, it reported. The car maker, which is part of the Volkswagen group, is one of the Czech Republic’s most important companies, with around 28,000 employees in this country.
A joint Czech-German police station has been opened at the Petrovice-Bahratal border crossing in Saxony today, a few days ahead of the Czech Republic’s entry to the Shengen zone. The centre is to coordinate the joint police patrols operating along the border zone as well as the search for wanted persons. It will also be in charge of the extradition of refugees in accordance with the Dublin convention. The Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday that the number of joint patrols operating on the Czech-German border will increase in the future. A similar centre is currently being established in Bavaria.
Czech Interior Ministry has announced a plan to buy thousands of new cars for the police as of the beginning of next year. It will be the biggest purchase of police cars in ten years. The last time the police purchased such an amount of cars was in the mid-1990s, when they acquired 5,500 Skoda cars. The Interior Minister Ivan Langer has not specified how much the new cars will cost.
Some 12,500 Czechs are believed to have died last year because of smog, according to a recent report by the Environment Ministry. That means that up to 13 percent of the total number of deaths in the Czech Republic can be attributed to air pollution. The last ten years have also seen an unusual increase in allergies among children. The incidence of tumours is increasing as well, especially in areas affected by higher emissions. In larger towns there are usually about two cases caused by polluted air in every hundred thousand people, while in industrial regions it can be as much as ten in one hundred thousand. The highest concentration of harmful substances was monitored in the North Bohemian region of Ostrava.
Seven people were arrested and charged with copyright violations in a series of nine police raids that took place in different parts of the Czech Republic last week. The police had seized computers and data-storage equipment with illegal software and pirated music and films. The centre of the illegal network was reportedly based at the Czech Technical University dormitories in Prague's district of Strahov.