In this week's Mailbox we look at how efficient the Czech work force is, the crime rate in Prague, and the reaction to the abduction of three Czechs in Iraq. We answer questions from George Thornton, Jill Knowles, Bernie Pounds, Christian Paddock.

The first question comes from George Thornton from Senegal. He asks:

"Do people in the Czech Republic work from nine to five or do they have siestas, long afternoon breaks? I am also interested in the amount of time they get off work."

Officially, most Czechs work eight hours a day, although many do overtime. They do not have siestas, but that doesn't stop them from having longer lunch breaks than the half-an-hour that most workers are entitled to. As far as holidays are concerned, most companies allow four weeks a year, aside from the national holidays, but some allow five weeks.

But the results of a recent study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the efficiency of the Czech labour force found that Czechs work some of the longest hours. However, the work they do is not as efficient as that done by other Europeans and in order to get the same amount of work done, Czechs would have to move to their place of employment! Actually, according to the ILO, Czechs have the longest working hours in the world - some 2000 hours a year. The average Czech works ten to fifteen weeks more a year than the average Dutch, Norwegian, German, or Frenchman. While I thought it was the Japanese who work the longest hours, the ILO says Czechs work several weeks more a year. Or perhaps I should say that Czechs spend several weeks more at work than others. Because the ILO also points out that the simple fact that they are at work longer, does not mean that they do more work. Mainly because company managers are unable to manage their time properly and therefore fail to organise that of their staff. More time is therefore spent on eating, smoking, drinking, chatting with colleagues, and surfing the internet.

In the past week, we received the same question from two different listeners. Jill Knowles from California and Bernie Pounds from Finland want to know how much crime we have in Prague. According to the Prague Police, around 24,000 crimes were committed in the first three months of the year and only 4,000 of them have been solved. When compared to the same period in the last year, the number is lower (some four percent) but overall, as far as violent crimes are concerned, they are on the rise.

Christian Paddock from the UK asks:

"How did the Czech people react to the abduction of your three journalists? Has there been any protest demonstration against the Czech Republic's involvement in Iraq, as a result?"

No, there has not but that's because the Czech Republic is not really that much involved the military action in Iraq. In fact, there has not been much reaction to the kidnapping of our three colleagues. Some people sent e-mails or called Czech TV and Czech Radio to say they all hoped things would turn out well.

RADIO PRAGUE COMPETITIONS: The question for the month of April is "On May first, the Czech Republic becomes an EU member. What other big event will Czechs celebrate as part of the Year of Czech Music? " Send your answers to the Radio Prague English Section, 120 99 Prague 2, the Czech Republic or by e-mail to They should get to us by April 30.

... and of course, there's the annual competition where all you have to do to enter is send us a few lines on what Czech music means to you. The main prize is one week in the Czech capital. There will also be a number of attractive runner-up prizes. Please get your answers to us by June 15.