News

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Parliament overrides presidential veto on Labour Code

Czech deputies have overturned a presidential veto of a controversial Labour Code. The new law, which comes into effect on January 1 next year, was pushed through the lower house of parliament by the Social Democrats and the Communists. The opposition Civic Democrats and the two junior ruling coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union say the bill threatens the flexibility of the labour market and is unconstitutional because it gives trade unions too much power, and makes it difficult for employers to let go of unproductive staff and employ new people.

In November, over 25,000 members of 51 trade unions flocked to Prague to support the proposed new Labour Code in a demonstration that was the biggest that the country has seen since the Velvet Revolution sixteen years ago.

Parliament also overturns presidential veto on non-profit hospitals

Social Democrat and Communist deputies also joined forces on Tuesday to override a presidential veto of a bill on non-profit hospitals. The bill, part of health minister David Rath's extensive reform of the health sector, is opposed by thousands of health workers, who say it is part of a plan to nationalise hospitals. In a desperate attempt to persuade deputies not to vote for the bill, representatives of smaller hospitals forwarded a petition with 230,000 signatures to lower house deputies before the vote was held. The influential Trade Union of Physicians, on the other hand, supports the law, saying it will guarantee affordable hospital care to all.

Prague bourse experiences third worst day in its history

The Prague bourse experienced the 3rd worst day in its history on Monday, with shares in nine elite companies losing 150 million crowns in value over the last week. In a single day share values for Unipetrol, for example, dropped by 13 percent, Philip Morris by 12, with the main bourse index 15 percent lower than this year's max reached in February, the financial daily Hospodarske Noviny writes. Economic experts have said that the rapid fall in share value is the influence of a wave of selling on foreign markets. The deputy prime minister for the economy Jiri Havel commented developments by saying the decline was temporary, a sentiment echoed by other business specialists.

Amnesty International report criticises Czech Republic on various fronts

The Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Svatopluk Karasek, has said the Czech Republic is aware of human rights violations criticised in Amnesty International's annual report. The human rights organisation criticises the Czech Republic on numerous fronts - the country discriminates against the Roma, uses controversial caged and netted beds to restrain people in mental institutions, and fails to stop police officers from abusing their authority. Mr Karasek says the Czech Republic has already been taking steps to improve the situation.

Prime Minister: new scientific study to recognise anti-fascists

A new scientific project is to recognise the role of ethnic Germans who remained loyal to Czechoslovakia, participated in the anti-Nazi resistance movement, and aided in the restoration of Czechoslovak statehood, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Tuesday. The three-year project, for which the government has earmarked 30 million crowns, will be overseen by the Czech Academy of Sciences' Modern History Institute, in cooperation with the National Archives and the Museum of Usti nad Labem in northern Bohemia. Modern History Institute director, Oldrich Tuma, believes some 100 people, who are still alive today, could gain recognition through the project.

Customs officials uncover counterfeit bills worth 1.2 million US dollars

Customs officials in the west Bohemian town of Cheb say they have uncovered over one million fake 100 US dollar bills in two containers that were brought into the country from Vietnam. The police are now investigating what the bills, which are printed on both sides but are in brighter colour, were to be used for. While 450,000 bills were discovered last Tuesday among kitchen utensils, the others were found three days later hidden among food supplies.

IDC study: Czechs acquire every second copy of software illegally

Forty percent of the packaged software installed on personal computers in the Czech Republic in 2005 was illegal, a worldwide study conducted by the IDC firm concludes. This amounts to over one million US dollars in losses due to software piracy, is four percent higher than the EU average, but the lowest rate in Central and Eastern Europe. Overall, the study found PC software piracy in emerging markets declining and remaining stable worldwide.

SNK-ED accuse Social Democrats of damaging their election campaign

Prague's coalition of the Association of Independent Candidates and European Democrats (SNK-ED) has accused the Social Democrats of damaging its pre-election campaign. The coalition says the Social Democrats have posted their election slogans over hundreds of their own pre-election posters and wants to be compensated for its losses.

Number of social security payers rising faster than number of pensioners

The number of people in the Czech Republic paying social security is growing faster than the number of pensioners, the Czech Social Security Office says. At the end of March, there were around 110,000 more social security payers than five years ago; the number of pensioners, on the other hand, had only risen by 47,000.

Czech football star Rosicky joins Arsenal

The Czech football star Tomas Rosicky has signed a long-term contract with one of Europe's biggest clubs, Arsenal. The midfielder moves to the English Premier League after five years with Germany's Borussia Dortmund. It had appeared that he would join Atletico Madrid, but the deal fell through after the Spanish club were late with a down-payment. Rosicky, who is 25, has scored 15 goals in 53 appearances for the Czech Republic, and is set to be one of the team's key players at the forthcoming World Cup.

Ice Hockey: Kaberle helps Carolina down Buffalo in 4:3 win

Czech defenseman Frantisek Kaberle scored once in the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals on Monday to help lift his team, Carolina, over the Buffalo Sabres 4:3. The best-of-seven series is now tied at one apiece.

Weather

The next few days will have overcast skies and scattered showers throughout the country and daytime temperatures of around 18 degrees Celsius.