News Saturday, MAY 16th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start as usual with the headlines:

A congress of the Czech-Moravian trade union chamber gets underway in Prague on Friday

The Civic democratic alliance considers withdrawing its lists of candidates and not taking part in the June elections

and a Czech tourist bus goes off the road in the Swiss Alps, resulting in two deaths.

Those were the main points and now the news in detail:

The 2nd congress of the Czech-Moravian TU chamber started on Friday in Prague. The main topics on the agenda are future TU tasks and tactics. Trade Unions, which endorse the idea of social peace, are prepared to conduct talks with the government that'll be formed after the upcoming June elections, but they are resolved to act more resolutely in putting forward their demands. Speaker of the House of Deputies Milos Zeman greeted the participants and mentioned three tasks, on which - according to him - Trade unions should cooperate with his party, the Social democrats. One of them is incorporating tri-partite negotiations - that's negotiations between the trade unions, the employers and the government - into Czech legislation. The chairman of the Christian Democrats, Josef Lux, was also present at the TU Congress. Mr. Lux expressed regret that in the past, the relationship between the trade unions and the cabinet was politicized. Lux stressed that trade unions should not be the property of any political party and pointed out that the essential prerequisite for the Czech republic's prosperity is social dialogue.

The Civic democratic alliance leadership is considering not running for the June parliamentary elections, although it has distributed its lists of candidates in all regions. ODA leader Daniel Kroupa said this at a press conference in Prague, citing as reasons very low electoral support and lack of money. According to the latest opinion poll, conducted by the Public Opinion Research Institute, the Civic democratic alliance enjoys support from only 0,5 percent of voters, while a party which wants to make it to the parliament needs at least 5 percent. The alliance's popularity has dropped substantially after a financial scandal broke out several months ago.

The House of Deputies on Monday passed into the final reading a governmental bill on the sale and export of objects with cultural value. The bill would allow these objects to leave the Czech republic only with certificates issued by a professional organization or the Ministry of Culture. An amendment to the bill, proposed by the lower house, envisages two kinds of certificates: one issued for an unlimited period, allowing the object to remain abroad indefinitely, and the other specifying a date, after when the piece of art would have to be returned to the Czech republic. The amendment also specifies the penalties for breaking the new law: a person who takes an object with a cultural value abroad without a certificate could be fined up to ten million crowns.

Two dead, three seriouly injured, and some 30 people with minor injuries is the toll of a road accident in Switzerland, when a bus of the Firo- Tour travel agency from the town of Chomutov skidded off the road in the San Bernardino Pass in the Swiss Alps. Czech embassy employee Lenka Trnkova told the CTK news agency on Friday that all tourists had been taken to hospitals in Locarno, Lugano and Bellinzona by ambulance and helicopter immediately after the accident. The police have been investigating the case, including the mechanical condition of the bus, since the road was dry at the time of the accident.

And that's the end of the news.