Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for September 28, 2021

2022 budget approved by cabinet, progress made in Turów mine talks, Czech Post employees plan three-day strike.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 28.09.2021 09:43 (updated on 28.09.2021)

2022 budget approved by cabinet

The government has approved the 2022 budget bill with a CZK 376.6 billion deficit, although ČSSD refused to vote in favor of the budget in protest against what they saw as an insufficient increase in civil servants’ pay. The pay rise for civil servant will not even cover inflation, ČSSD leader Jan Hamáček protested.

Nonetheless, the ANO-dominated cabinet approved the budget, which envisions state revenues next year of CZK 1,551.1 billion and expenditures of CZK 1,927.7 billion. The budget bill will now be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, although its passage through the house before the general election on October 8-9 is uncertain.

Progress made in Turów mine talks

The Czech Republic and Poland have made progress in talks aimed at resolving their dispute over the continued operation of one of Poland’s largest coal mines, situated near the Polish-Czech border, according to Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec. The dispute over the 30-square-kilometer Turów coal mine has been taken to the European Courts of Justice over the impact which local Czech residents say the mine is having on drinking water and living standards.

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Turów supplies as much as 7 percent of Poland’s energy. Brabec said the two sides had agreed on the need to expedite the process of reaching an agreement. Last week, the EU ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of €500,000 to the European Commission for not halting operations at the mine.

Czech Post plans three-day strike starting tomorrow

A three-day strike by Czech Post employees will see a reduced pace of work at offices throughout the country. 9,000 workers, around a third of the company's employees, will take part in the strike protesting against working conditions at Czech Post. The strike has come about because negotiations on the establishment of a working group with CEO Roman Knap have failed. Czech Post management says they will continue to provide services as usual and that the strike will not disrupt operations.

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A Czech Post spokesperson noted that one of the leaders of the strike is not actually an employee of Czech Post. The company faces accusations by employees of insufficient health and safety procedures and deteriorating working conditions. Czech Post employs a total of around 27,000 people. Employees last went on strike five years ago demanding higher wages.

No major changes in relations expected after German election

Czech politicians do not expect major changes in relations between the Czech Republic and Germany after the German general election on Sunday. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he was looking forward to continued close cooperation with Germany under its new government. Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek meanwhile tweeted that he looks forward to further strengthening of cooperation in trade, science, transport and security.

The Social Democrat Party (SPD) won a narrow victory in elections to the German Bundestag with 25.7 percent of the vote, ahead of the CDU/CSU conservative coalition with 24.1 percent, its worst result in the post-war era. The Green party finished third with 14.8 percent.

Czech Republic to buy Israeli air defense system

The Czech Republic will buy an air defense system from Israel for CZK 13.7 billion on the basis of an agreement between the two nations’ governments, Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar announced. Israeli firm Rafael will supply the SPYDER system, which is expected to cost a total of CZK 23.5 billion throughout its anticipated two-decade lifespan. Until now, the Czech Republic has been dependent on a Communist-era KUB air defense system from the 1970s.

The Defense Ministry had earmarked CZK 10 billion for the purchase of a new system, but the Israeli company asked for a significantly higher sum due to higher production costs, inflation, and the promised transfer of technologies to the Czech Republic.

Belarusian opposition leader Kalesnikava win Václav Havel Prize

Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kalesnikava, one of the three women who became symbols of Belarus’s struggle for civic freedoms and human rights, has won the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize for 2021 as chosen by the Council of Europe. The prize, named after the famous Czechoslovak dissident and first post-Communist President, has been presented annually since 2013.

Kalesnikava was kidnapped by the Belarusian authorities in Minsk a year ago after she resisted attempts to force her to leave the country. She was recently sentenced to eleven years in prison after working on the campaign staff of a presidential rival to current leader Alexander Lukashenko. Kalesnikava’s sister accepted the prize on her behalf. The other two nominees for this year’s award were French NGO Reporters Without Borders, and Burundian human right advocate Germain Rukuki.

Czech mobile market to be regulated due to limited competition

The Czech Telecommunications Office will regulate the mobile data market next year due to limited competition. It will require O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone to allow virtual operators access to their mobile services at a regulated price. The regulation will take effect after approval from the European Commission, which should come next year. The step will allow virtual operators to replicate the offers of the large operators, making it possible for them to compete on the Czech market.

An analysis found that the price of one MB of data in the Czech Republic in the period 2015 to 2020 was always equal or higher than the retail price. In 2020, the average price reached almost double the retail price. With the wholesale price of data always more expensive than the retail price, the existence of virtual operators as competition for the big players became economically impossible.

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