Transport union leaders have said a five-hour strike planned for Thursday
morning will not now go ahead. They said they were calling off the strike
because the Chamber of Deputies had on Tuesday given in to their demand to
amend a law that had placed workers’ benefits in a higher tax bracket.
The Senate is dominated by the right and is not expected to follow the
lower house’s lead, which would mean the matter would then return to the
Chamber of Deputies. Meanwhile, the Czech president, Václav Klaus, says
will not sign the relevant amendment if it comes before him.
The strike planned for Thursday had originally been set for Monday, before being postponed by union leaders. It was due to last from 4 am to 9 am and would mainly have affected the Czech Republic’s rail network and public transport in some cities.
The minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, has criticised public broadcaster Czech Television for showing communist-era news bulletins. Czech Television’s CT24 news channel has been broadcasting daily news from 25 years ago for the last three years. Mr Kocáb on Wednesday issued a statement saying it was just as indefensible as if German TV had screened news broadcasts from the Nazi era two decades later, adding that the communist-era bulletins were shown without any explanation of the historical context. Czech Television has refused to comment.
President Václav Klaus says Czech voters should decide wisely on whom to support in general elections at the end of May and not to vote for new parties just because of their novelty. In an interview on TV Nova, he described the number of freshly-formed parties as a totally new situation. Mr Klaus said that until recently people knew more or less who to vote for; he said this has now changed and the situation is “risky”. Polls indicate the new right-of-centre party TOP 09 is likely to pass the 5-percent threshold to enter parliament, while some polls suggest Public Affairs could also win seats in the lower house.
The mayor of Náchod, Oldřich Čtvrtečka, has been charged by police over alleged corruption linked to the sale of the east Bohemian town’s brewery last year. It was bought by the Liberec-based company for CZK 150 million (nearly USD 8 million). Another interested party, the brewer Holba, has questioned the sale, saying it offered CZK 185 million. The mayor is suspected of abuse of office and dereliction in connection with the management of the property of others. Mr Čtvrtečka rejects such allegations. He told the news website novinky.cz that such sales were carried out by local authorities, not mayors.
Sales of meat in the Czech Republic fell by around 10 percent year-on-year in 2009, the chairman of the Czech Association of Meat Processors said on Wednesday. Speaking at foodstuffs trade fair Salima, Jaromír Kloud said, however, that other industries such as machinery and textiles had suffered greater downswings in sales. Mr Kloud said some meat producers had managed to keep business at 2009 levels, often thanks to new services or marketing strategies.
There was a marked rise in purchases of new cars in the Czech Republic in the first two months of 2010, according to figures released by the Car Importers Association. The overall number of car sales increased by 17 percent compared to the same period in 2009, with companies buying 59 percent more vehicles. Interest in company cars has risen this year after a change to the law on VAT. The biggest seller in January and February was Škoda, followed by Volkswagen and Ford.
Two Czech documentary makers were interrogated for several days after being arrested by police in Iran, the news website idnes.cz reported. Martin Šíma and Jan Šibík, who is best known as a photographer, were in the country making a film about a lawyer defending a woman condemned to death. They were arrested last month after recording some shots of young people in a park. Both are now back in the Czech Republic.
Czech Railways hopes to sell at least 100,000 tickets through the Lidl chain of supermarkets this year, a representative of the former told reporters on Wednesday. The system was first introduced last year, with sales during trials in October and in the Christmas period amounting to 28,000. Prague and Brno branches of Lidl are selling train tickets between the two cities at a reduced price. Czech Railways says they are planning to also sell cheaper tickets on other routes through the Lidl chain.
The Czech Republic’s footballers are preparing for their first game of the year, a friendly against Scotland on Wednesday night. Mainstays Petr Čech and Milan Baroš are injured and will miss the match at Glasgow’s Hampden Park. It was arranged before the draw for the qualifiers for Euro 2012, which pitted the Czechs against Scotland, along with European champions Spain, Lithuania and Liechtenstein.
Former Czech soccer international Luboš Kubík has been hired as an assistant coach to the USA, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Kubík, who will be going to the World Cup in South Africa with the US this year, played for Czechoslovakia against the Americans at the 1990 World Cup; he was also part of the Czech squad that reached the final of the 1996 European championship. The defensive midfielder played in the US league for Chicago Fire and Dallas Burn after stints at Fiorentina, Metz and Nuremberg.