The governing coalition is determined to push ahead with a proposed 5 percent salary cut for all constitutional officials in 2011, despite the likelihood that the decision may be taken to court. The proposed cut would affect the incomes of MPs, senators, judges and the president. The Constitutional Court recently invalidated a 4 percent reduction in the salary of judges affected in 2010 on the grounds that it was un-constitutional and undermined judicial independence. The centre-right coalition government which has approved extensive austerity measures with the aim of a balancing the state budget by 2016, says it is unethical to exempt the country’s top officials from the cost-cutting measures.
Czech ministries are preparing to lay off some 6,000 employees by the end of the year within the government’s austerity package. The redundancies will affect not only administrative workers but police officers and fire-fighters. The biggest lay-offs should take place at the interior ministry, the ministry of social affairs and the ministry of finance, which are all cutting approximately twenty percent of their staff. Labor offices are preparing for the upsurge in job seekers.
The deputy mayor of Zlín, Martin Janeček, has filed a criminal complaint of slander against his critics on Facebook. Mr. Janeček who is third on the Social Democrats candidates list in the town of Zlín, is seeking re-election in the autumn. He says that the campaign against him on Faceboook –in which he is accused of corrupt practices – is no longer tolerable and has asked the police to file charges against an unknown culprit. Police have been questioning the author of the respective web site.
Austrian and German hospitals are seeking to recruit qualified Czech doctors who are dissatisfied with salaries and work conditions in their homeland, the news site novinky.cz reports. The news site claims that head hunters have intensified their efforts in the medical sphere and have even organized a job opportunities fair in Prague in October. The head of the Czech Medical Chamber Milan Kubek says Czech hospitals and clinics are currently short of some 700 qualified doctors and warns that the situation could significantly deteriorate in view of the government’s cost cutting measures for 2011. Hundreds of doctors have threatened to walk out and seek work abroad unless they get a salary increase next year.
The health minister, Leos Heger, has expressed himself in favour of more direct payments from patients. The minister said that in view of the current economic situation patients should be asked to contribute to standard care which is currently financed by health insurance companies. He said he saw no reason why patients should not pay for a standard filling at the dentist and has suggested that a patient’s contribution towards a day in hospital could be increased from 60 to 100 crowns. Former deputy health minister Marek Snajder of the Civic Democrats has expressed support for the idea, saying that on average Czechs still forked out more for alcohol and cigarettes than they paid for health care.
Police are investigating the death of a 32-year-old man in a Prague bar on Friday night. Paramedics were called out to help a man who reportedly sustained injuries after falling down a flight of stairs, but eyewitnesses revealed that he had got into a fight with a security guard who beat him up and disappeared before the police arrived. The man died later that night of serious head and chest injuries which doctors said could not have been inflicted by a fall down stairs. Police have detained the security guard and are waiting for the results of an autopsy.
A truck driver who injured two five-year- olds after failing to stop at a crossing for a group of kindergarten children is to be charged with causing grievous bodily harm through negligence. Although the driver had not been drinking, the vehicle was in poor technical condition and experts say the breaks must have been giving him trouble for some time. A five-year-old girl remains in serious condition with head injuries. Witnesses said the two teachers accompanying the group of children prevented a much bigger tragedy by pulling as many of them as they could to the side of the road.
Tens of thousands of people attended the 10th annual NATO days at Ostrava’s Mosnov Airport over the weekend. The two day event is slated to be the biggest air, military and security show in Central Europe with military hardware exhibitions, police and rescue technology and dynamic shows of special units. One of the biggest attractions this year is the legendary heavy strategic bomber B-52 Stratofortress of the United States Air Force.
Grape harvesting celebrations took place in Prague’s Vinohrady district over the weekend with wine growers offering the public a taste of burčák –young fermenting wine that is high on sugar and low on alcohol. The annual burčák festivities traditionally include a procession in period costumes, a knights’ tournament, a historical market, medieval music, dances, amateur theatre performances and plenty of opportunities to sample and buy the young semi-fermented wine. The grand finale comes with a display of fireworks.
The Czech Republic took a 2-1 lead over Serbia in their Davis Cup World
Group semi-final on Saturday after Tomáš Berdych and Radek Štepánek won
the doubles against Nenad Zimonjic and Novak Djokovic 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-1.
In Friday’s games the Czechs and Serbs levelled at 1-1. First Radek Štepánek gave the Czechs the lead, beating Djokovic's replacement Viktor Troicki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. But 37th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic then beat Wimbledon runner-up Tomáš Berdych, the world number seven, 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) to level the tie.