News Saturday, APRIL 22nd, 2000

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Occupation strike at Kohinoor is over

The three week occupation strike at the Kohinoor coal mine is over. The mine's management and miners' representatives signed an agreement on ending the strike a bare half hour before the evacuation deadline was due to expire. Faced with the possibility of immediate dismissal, the 47 miners backed down on their earlier demands, asking only for social guarantees which would enable them to handle the impact of job losses and the mine's eventual closure. The Kohinoor mine sustained heavy losses in the past year and is to be phased out of operation.

Social Democrats say Tolerance Pact is being violated

The governing Social Democrats have accused their opposition ally, the Civic Democratic Party, of violating the Tolerance Pact which has enabled the minority government to hold office since 1998. At the center of controversy is the establishment of a state housing fund, which is on the list of things the two parties agreed to support in a so-called five-point agreement. At recent parliament sessions at which the state housing fund was debated the Civic Democrats appeared among the least enthusiastic and expressed numerous reservations regarding the housing minister's proposal. The Parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats said at a press briefing on Friday the time had come for bilateral negotiations to clear up the matter. The allies have had disagreements over the Tolerance Pact before but have always managed to settle their differences.

PM has kidney colic

The Prime Minister was released from hospital early on Friday afternoon after getting emergency treatment for a kidney colic. Prime Minister Milos Zeman suffers from a condition known as kidney stones and had allegedly tried to deal with severe back pain since Thursday, not wanting to put off a scheduled visit to the northeastern city of Ostrava. The Prime Minister's spokesman said later that his condition had rapidly improved and there would be no changes to his schedule.

Greens want referendum on Temelin

With only just over three months to go to the launching of the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia, environment activists are reminding the governing Social Democrats of their earlier demands that a national referendum should decide the plant's future. Activists of the eco-movement Rainbow have started a petition demanding a referendum, which now holds some two thousand signatures. On hearing about it, the Prime Minister said earlier this week that while he himself had been in favour of a referendum several years ago that was at a time when the plant's construction had been in its early stages. "To hold it now would be ridiculous" Zeman said.

Trade union leaders protest PM's statement

Trade Union leaders have slammed the Prime Minister for his verbal attack on their colleagues at the Nova Hut Steelworks. Mr. Zeman said on Thursday that he would listen to no demands made by union representatives at the ailing Nova Hut enterprise since he considered them to be collaborators with the old management. "They sat in at board meetings and watched while the firm's finances were being embezzled " Zeman said, emphasizing that he held them morally co-responsible for the steelwork's present plight. The Trade Union Association has called the remarks "outrageous" saying the men in question were honest and had always done their best to defend employees' interests.

Finally, a look at the weekend weather forecast:

Things just couldn't be better. The long Easter weekend will bring sunshine and temperatures between 23 and 27 degs C.