Over 120,000 state employees take part in strike over pay cuts
Tens of thousands of people in the Czech Republic have been protesting on Wednesday against plans by the country’s government to cut public sector pay next year. More than 120,000 state employees have held a one-day strike, while demonstrations were organised across the country.
“We are protesting against the systemic changes proposed by this government. We do not agree with them. We want the system of salaries to remain the same.”
“I’m a doctor, a psychiatrist, I’ve got a PhD, and my base salary is 840 dollars a month. My rent is 500, so I have to make do with what’s left. I’ve reached one of the highest qualifications in the country, and that’s my salary.
Wednesday’s protests closed some 500 schools. Many hospitals only provided emergency care, and some of the state offices were closed for business. The National Library was closed for the whole day as were some sections of the National Museum, and many other state-run institutions.
Their employees oppose government plans to cut their salaries by 10 percent next year, part of the cabinet’s austerity measures that should balance the country’s budget deficit by 2016.
But the government has remained firm, showing little readiness to change its plans. President Václav Klaus said he believed even trade union leaders were aware that the cuts were necessary.
Meanwhile, workers’ leaders hope the strike will make the government rethink the cuts. But they have not yet said what the course of action will be if the cabinet does not back down.