Wage up nine percent on average

Figures released for the third quarter of the year reveal that the average gross monthly salary rose by almost 9 percent to 14.400 Czech crowns, or around 390 US dollars. In general, wage growth was lower in the private sector than in the public sector, where wages have traditionally been significantly lower. The highest wage growth was seen in sectors which already enjoy the highest wages, such as air transport, banking and insurance where wages grew by more than 17 percent.

The figures also show that the gap between salaries in Prague and in the rest of the country is still significant - people in Prague get paid around a third more than those in the region where salaries are lowest - Olomouc in North Moravia.

Zuzana Smidova is Radio Prague's Ostrava correspondent. I asked her why it was that the Olomouc region has the lowest wages in the whole of the Czech Republic.

"There are a couple of factors which contribute to this. One could be that there is obviously a higher unemployment rate than in Prague and that means that there is more labour on the market, on offer, and if there is more the prices go lower, so it's easier for employers to employ people for lower wages. Another factor could be that it's cheaper to live there, the living cost are lower...you don't pay as high rent."

People in the Olomouc region get paid about a third less than people in Prague. Do they resent that fact - are they angry about it at all?

"I don't know particularly about Olomouc but in the Czech Republic there is a saying - v Praze je blaze ale draze - meaning that life is good in Prague but expensive, and that saying has been around for years. So, it's a well known fact and people don't do much about it. They don't really mind but they just acknowledge it - unless you want to move you just have to live with it."

You live in a different part of North Moravia - Ostrava. How would you describe the situation there as regards wages?

"I'd say it's even worse than in Olomouc, because the unemployment there is around 15 percent - in some places it reaches 16. It's a region which has been badly hit by the closedown of mines and the restructuring of the steel industry. And there are a lot of people who have been laid off from these positions, so obviously they don't have any skills, or they're not so qualified. Also they were getting quite a lot of money working for the steelworks or the mines, and so now with the wages so low they don't really want to work - they're not motivated to go and work again."

How does that situation affect bright, young, educated people in Ostrava?

"Well, unfortunately most of them leave - they leave usually for Prague. I know a couple of people who've just left university with an economics degree and they've been trying really hard to find a job in the Ostrava region. They didn't want to leave, but unfortunately they can't get anything decent. The best they could get for reasonable money was an assistant's position in a steelwork's company, so if that's the prospect you obviously are willing to leave because you get more money in Prague, you get better jobs. So, unfortunately, they are leaving."