In Business News this week, Škoda Auto looks to Saturday working; foreign workers’ visa freeze; Prague airport privatisation problems; Czech agriculture’s new master; hiring and firing dismissal overhaul still on course; and the developing taste for non-alcoholic beer.
Škoda Auto looks to Saturday shifts
Czech car maker Škoda Auto is negotiating with unions to bring back Saturday work shifts thanks to boosted demand for new cars following incentives to scrap old cars in some European countries. The company is said to be looking at five extra Saturday shifts to meet the unexpected surge in demand. According to unions, the company will have to call on more foreign contract workers, many of whom were laid off in the autumn when sales plummeted.
Work visas frozen for applicants from five countries
Prague airport sale appears grounded
Czech agro-business king declared
The Czech countryside has a new uncrowned king in the person of billionaire Andrej Babiš. Mr Babiš has been given the title by the Czech media after his agro-chemical group Agrofert was cleared by competition authorities to buy its biggest rival Agropol. The result will be a company ranked the third biggest in the Czech Republic with turnover of around 160 billion crowns a year. Mr Babiš says the new giant will be able to take on established western European agro-business companies. But domestic fears of that his empire is becoming too big caused the competition authority to demand Mr Babiš sells seven of his smaller companies as the price for its approval.
Outgoing minister pushes on with shake up of hiring and firing rules
According to media reports, outgoing Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Petr Nečas, has not given up on his plans to overhaul rules for dismissing employees - even though he appears to be on the way out of office himself. Mr Nečas has sent his package of amendments for government approval, the news website Aktuálně.cz reported this week. The proposed changes give employers the right to alter the now normal three month probation period for newly hired workers by cutting them to one month or extending them to six. Employees can also be laid off with only one month’s notice instead of the current two.
Non-alcoholic beer goes from strength to strength
And finally, non-alcoholic beer is making rapid inroads on the Czech market according to the latest figures from the Czech Beer and Malt Association. The industry grouping says 579,000 hectolitres of non-alcoholic beer was produced last year, almost a sixth more than in 2007. It describes non-alcoholic sales as the most dynamic part of the beer market with almost half of the country’s 47 main brewers now on the bandwagon. Most of the production is being drunk on the home market.