Daily news summary
Czech trade unions seek pay rises, cut in working week
The biggest grouping of Czech trades unions, the Confederation of Czech and Moravian Trades Unions, is focusing on higher wages and a shorter working week at a two day congress in the capital, Prague, beginning Friday.
The unions want to see a cut in the working week by 2.5 hours. They also want to see a 1,500 crown hike in the minimum wage from January next year from the current 12,200 crowns to 13,700 crowns. The unions point out that past increases in the minimum wage have not dented the performance of the Czech economy, as employers had warned.
The two-day meeting should elect a new leadership for the next four years. The only contender to be chairman is the current incumbent, Josef Středula.
Corruption watchdog sounds warning over metro joint venture
Corruption watchdog Transparency International has sounded the alarm over what it describes as undue haste by Prague City Council’s municipal transport company to push through a joint venture deal with development company Penta for part of a new metro line in the capital.
A final decision to clear the joint venture for developing stations and surroundings on the new D line should be cleared by the transport company board on Wednesday.
Transparency says many key questions about the venture and its ramifications have not been answered. Taking a few more months to iron out issues in a project likely to last 15-20 years and valued around 60 billion crowns would not cost anything, Transparency says.
ANO invokes emergency talks over future of ruling Prague coalition
The ANO party have called for emergency discussions between governing parties at Prague City Council on whether the existing coalition will continue.
The discussions should decide within the next 30 days whether the ruling grouping of ANO, the Social Democrats, and the so-called Three-Way Coalition continues in power or is dissolved.
ANO called for the procedure to be implemented after blaming members of the Three-Way Coalition for blocking a decision about the programme for Thursday’s full council meeting.
The meeting was due to discuss the demolition of Libeň Bridge, a move which many members of the coalition of three parties oppose. The 1928 bridge, with Cubist elements, is in a very poor state and the city council’s executive has called for it to be demolished and a new structure built in its place.
Elections for a new city council are due in the Autumn.
Czech finance minister seeks to boost customs administration’s tax powers
The Czech ministry of finance has lodged a new demand that customs officers are allowed to investigate and pursue a much wider range of tax related crimes.
At the moment, they only have full competence with regard to Valued Added Tax and customs duties. Other tax related cases must be handed over to the police.
A similar attempt to widen the competences of the customs administration was made in 2016 by the then finance minister Andrej Babiš. It failed to win support from other government parties. Babiš is now prime minister and head of the biggest party, ANO.
Czech held in Ukraine for allegedly selling bugging equipment was elite police officer
A Czech held in custody in Ukraine for illegally selling devices for bugging phone calls is a former officer with the special police unit for combating organised crime, the server of Czech public radio has revealed.
It identified the man as Luděk Vokal, drawing on information given by a local court.
Vokal was detained in custody on Wednesday with bail set at around 4,500 euros. He must stay in Ukraine to help police with the investigation and could face a jail sentence of four to seven years if found guilty.
Some Czech media reported that a Czech diplomat was also detained but later released in connection with the case. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no information.
Government negotiations to resume next week
Dealings between leaders of ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communists on forming a government coalition are set to continue next week.
The newly elected chief of the Social Democratic Party, Jan Hamáček, announced the news on Thursday evening after the first joint meeting of the three party leaders. He refused to give any further details about the negotiations.
The coalition talks restarted on Wednesday after being broken off when ANO refused to allow a Social Democrat minister of the interior. Both parties have previously said that the Communist Party was acceptable if the Communists agreed to the government’s pro-European course.
Losing start for Czech ice hockey team in Swedish Games
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team had a losing start at the Swedish Games in Södertälje on Thursday, when they went down 3:1 to the hosts. The result leaves the Czechs second in the Euro Hockey Tour table, one point behind the Finns. The Czechs will face Finland in their next match on Saturday.
Czech ice skating duo Dusková and Bidař announce split
Czech ice skating duo Anna Dusková and Martin Bidař have announced they will go their separate ways.
Bidař says he wants to take opportunities to train abroad with a view to the next Olympics and preparations for them. Dusková though wants to stay in the Czech capital and finish her studies.
The duo won the world junior ice skating championships in 2016 and were regarded as the big hope for Czech ice skating. In last year’s European championships they were seventh.
Saturday will be cloudy with sunny intervals. Top daytime temperatures will range between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius.