News Monday, APRIL 13th, 1998

Radio Prague e-news: April 10, 1998 Written/read by: Ray Furlong

Those are the headlines, I'm Ray Furlong, and now a look at the news in more detail.

The tension between the government and the unions has gone up another ratchet. The trade union congress, CMKOS, has announced that it is prepared to launch a nationwide campaign to force the government to the negotiating table. The move comes in response to the decision made by the government not to hold talks with unions representing tax collectors and civil servants, because they held a protest demonstration in front of the government headquarters earlier this week. CMKOS leader Richard Falbr said the prime minister, Josef Tosovsky, should rethink his position and re-enter talks with the civil servants' unions, and that the CMKOS was prepared to act as an intermediary. Opposition Social Democrat social affairs spokesman Vladimir Spidla accused Tosovsky of breaking his promise to be more open to dialogue than the previous government.

Ecologists have been making their annual spoof awards for the biggest enemies of the environment. A committee of 101 leading ecologists decided that the first prize in the main category - the so-called Ropak - should go to Stanislav Novotny, the head of a water company in Moravia. The committee said Mr. Novotny's insistence on an expensive technical approach to water management had exacerbated the problems caused by last summer's flooding in the region. Meanwhile, the Green Pearl of the Year Award for the most anti-environmental comment went to Parliament's defence and security committee chairman Petr Necas. His winning remark was: "It is necessary to limit the law on the protection of the environment, because it infringes the scope for doing business."

Czech football has received a stern warning from Europe's governing authority in the game, UEFA, about the state of its stadiums. Ernie Walker, the chief of a UEFA commission on ground safety, told Czech teams at a seminar held in Prague that they had to bring their stadiums up to scratch if they wanted to remain eligible for European competitions. At present, only a handful of Czech clubs meet UEFA safety guidelines - such as having all-seater stadiums. "The time when fans stood up and drank alcohol is a thing of the past," Walker said. This is unlikely to go down well in the Czech Republic, where a glass of beer at half-time is considered part of the event. Czech clubs also face financial difficulties adjusting their stadiums to meet UEFA's new standards - Walker acknowledged these problems but said there would be no exceptions.

And finally, the acute shortage of qualified judges which the Czech justice system has suffered since 1989 could be coming to an end. Justice Minister Vlasta Parkanova told journalists that interest in working as a judge had now increased, and that she has therefore ordered the criteria for selecting judges to be tightened. Statistics show that the Czech Republic still lacks over 300 judges, but there are currently over 400 people going through the three-year training period of adept judges.