Daily news summary


Czech gender pay gap second widest in EU

Women in the Czech Republic earn on average 80,000 crowns less per year than men do, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová told a news conference convened ahead of European Equal Pay Day.

"The difference in pay for women and men is 22 percent and the second highest in the entire European Union,” she said, calling fair remuneration for women and men "a crucial economic issue".

The gap is wider in the Czech private sector than in the public sector, she said. In the EU, on average women are paid 16 percent less than men, according to Eurostat.

Babiš asks for EU to review sale of ArcelorMittal plant in Ostrava

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has called on the European Commission to review the sale of ArcelorMittal's steel plant in Ostrava, due to be sold to the UK-based steelmaker Liberty House.

In a letter to EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager, Mr Babiš alleges that Liberty House Group has not laid out a comprehensive investment plan for the steel plant, the ČTK news agency reports. Czech unions earlier claimed the UK company’s plan was both unstainable and inconsistent with EU requirements.

For its part, Liberty House said it has a firm growth strategy for the Ostrava plant, into which it plans to invest over €150mn in the next five years so as to improve the quality of the plant's hot rolled coil and produce higher-grade rod.

Unions’ bracelet campaign aims to keep big retailers closed on holidays

Trade unions have launched a campaign to prevent a 2016 law banning larges stores from operating on certain public holidays from being amended.

Some 80,000 retail workers and supporters of the law have taken to wearing green bracelets with the inscription “Don’t take away our holidays”.

Currently, stores with a retail space of over 200 square metres must be closed on New Year’s Eve, Easter Monday, Victory in Europe Day, St. Wenceslas Day and Czech Independence Day. On Christmas Eve, they can operate only until noon, and must be closed on December 25 and 26.

The Czech Trade Inspection oversees compliance with the ban, which does not apply to pharmacies, petrol stations, and shops at airports, railway stations and in hospitals.

Constitutional Court rules against Klinika squatters’ appeal to stay at Prague site

Activists have lost an appeal to remain at an abandoned building in Prague 3 taken over by squatters in 2014 that now houses the alternative Klinika social and arts centre.

The Constitutional Court said in a resolution rejecting the appeal that just because a building has been out of use for a long period does not give others the right to occupy it.

If the state wants to in effect legalise squatting, it must do so through legislative changes, the court said.

The state has sold the Žižkov district building to the Railway Infrastructure Administration, which wants to reconstruct it to house part of its operations.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to visit Prague next week

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is set to visit several European countries next week, including the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, Reuters agency reported on Thursday.

According to Reuters, the Trump administration is seeking to offer the Eastern European countries alternatives to buying coal and gas from Russia.

Mr Perry is scheduled to meet with government officials on topics from nuclear energy to cyber security and coal and liquefied natural gas exports, says the press release by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Poll: Babiš (ANO) most popular politician, Bartoš (Pirates) a close second

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) remains the most popular politician according to a new poll by the STEM agency, with just over half of respondents viewing him a favourably.

Pirate party chairman Ivan Bartoš, who placed second in the ranking with 41 percent support, has gained the most ground since the previous STEM poll a month ago, gaining five percentage points.

In the third spot is chairman of the far-right Direct Democracy and Freedom Party (SPD), Tomio Okamura, who was viewed positively by 36 percent of those polled.

Communist (KSČM) party chairman Vojtěch Filip had the lowest favourability rating, at 23 percent, down nine percentage points since the last STEM poll.

Czechs are marking All Soul’s Day

People around the Czech Republic are marking Dušičky or All Soul’s Day, the day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. The Roman Catholic Holiday involves visiting and tending graves and lighting candles.

On Friday evening, Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka will serve a mass to commemorate the departed at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at Prague’s Vyšehrad.

According to the survey carried out by IPSOS agency, around four fifths of Czechs are planning to visit the cemetery over the weekend.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be cloudy throughout most of the country with daytime highs of between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius. Rain is likely especially in the regions of Central Bohemia and Southern Moravia.