News

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Necas planning sweeping changes of labour regulations

The minister of labour and social affairs, Petr Necas, is planning significant reform of the Czech Labour Code, the news website iHNed.cz reported. Mr Necas wants to make it easier for both employers and employees to terminate contracts. His plans also envisage cutting the period of notice from three to two months and extending the trial period beyond the current three months. On top of that, Minister Necas is targeting the jobless who turn down offers of retraining or short-term work – under his reform plans such a refusal would mean the unemployed would lose all benefits. Furthermore, social welfare payments would gradually decrease the longer somebody is out of work.

Survey: Social Democrats nearly eight points ahead of Civic Democrats

A new opinion poll puts the opposition Social Democrats some way in front of the Civic Democrats, the largest party in the governing coalition. The survey, conducted by the STEM agency at the start of this month, suggests the Social Democrats have 33 percent support, with the Civic Democrats on 24.5. The Communists came third in the poll, with almost 12 percent of respondents saying they would vote for them.

Langer: law should allow shutting down of mobile networks in case of terror attack

Czech law should be changed to give the government the power to shut down the country’s mobile telephone networks in the case of a terrorist attack, the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, said on Tuesday. Speaking after a meeting of the government’s security council, Mr Langer said, however, that such a move should only be made under the strictest of conditions. The security council discussed among other things the state’s anti-terrorism plan for the period until 2009.

Skoda Auto set for record profits this year

The car maker Skoda Auto expects to make a record net profit of CZK 15 billion this year, the chairman of the company’s board Reinhard Jung told the iHNed.cz news website. Skoda’s revenues for 2007 should reach almost CZK 230 billion, it reported. The car maker, which is part of the Volkswagen group, is one of the Czech Republic’s most important companies, with around 28,000 employees in this country.

Cunek’s former secretary seeking damages from Czech state at European Court of Human Rights

The former secretary of Jiri Cunek is taking the Czech Republic to the European Court of Human Rights in Starsbourg, Pravo reported. Marcela Urbanova was the chief witness in an investigation into alleged corruption on the part of the Christian Democrats leader; she alleges that state bodies did not proceed correctly in the matter and did not treat her fairly. Ms Urbanova’s lawyer said her client was seeking 10,000 euros in damages. Mr Cunek stepped down as deputy prime minister and minister for regional development because of the investigation, which has now been dropped definitively.

Police to keep some border posts after Schengen accession while others could be sold off

The Czech Republic’s police will hold on to six border posts when the country joins the Schengen zone at midnight on Thursday. The border posts will serve as police administrative centres, a spokesperson for the state’s body for the administration of property said on Tuesday. Several dozen other abandoned crossings will be offered to the Interior Ministry and customs units, or later transferred free of charge to local authorities. If some border posts are not taken in that process they may eventually be sold to companies or individuals. The Czech Republic is one of nine countries joining the Schengen border-free area later this week.

Forty new fire units handed over to brigades at Prague Castle ceremony

Fire services from around the Czech Republic were presented with 40 new fire units at a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday. The fire engines have a combined value of almost CZK 200 million and represent the biggest single purchase in the history of the Czech fire officers union. The new fire units will be transferred from professional to volunteer brigades in five years time, when they are expected to have become slightly outdated for the purposes of full-time fire fighters.

Drunken woman falls 20 metres from Vysehrad ramparts

A woman was in a serious condition in hospital on Tuesday after falling 20 metres from the ramparts of Prague’s Vyshrad on Monday night. The woman, who is 34, was drunk at the time of the fall, said a spokesperson for the city’s police. She sustained a number of broken bones and was found when passers-by heard her cries. Police said there was no evidence of attempted suicide or the involvement of other people.

Weather

It should gradually become sunnier around the country in the next couple of days. Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius.