Czech news in brief for April 15: Monday's top headlines

Czech PM lands in US for meeting with President Biden, rainy week to follow record warm weekend, and Czechs society aging faster than anticipated. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 15.04.2024 09:07:00 (updated on 15.04.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

WORK Czechia still has below-average labor costs

According to Eurostat figures, the average hourly labor cost for Czech companies in 2023 was EUR 18 (or CZK 456) per hour, an increase of CZK 38 from the previous year. The Czech Republic remains the 12th-cheapest country in the EU for labor costs. The EU average was EUR 31 (CZK 785) per hour. The lowest labor costs of all EU countries are in Bulgaria, where they are half as much as in the Czech Republic, and the highest costs are in Luxembourg.

cybersecurity Czech Avast firm hit with CZK 350m fine

The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection has fined Czech cybersecurity company Avast CZK 351 million for the unauthorized data processing of its antivirus program users. In 2019, the company transferred data on 100 million users to its subsidiary, Jumpshot, without proper anonymization. Avast misleadingly informed users about the transfer, which was intended for marketing purposes. Authorities found that the data was not adequately anonymized and could identify individuals. Avast is also subject to a similar legal case in the U.S., where due to data-privacy violations it faces a lawsuit of CZK 393 million.

HEALTH Whooping cough cases continue to surge

According to the National Public Health Institute, Czechia recorded its highest weekly number of new pertussis cases at 1,494 last week, with a total of 7,888 cases this year. This is the highest number in one calendar year since the late 1950s, when vaccination began. The Health Ministry reported increased interest in vaccination, with over 45,000 people revaccinated this year. Vaccination for children is covered by insurance, while adults must pay. Most of the infected persons are teenagers, aged from 15 to 19, who represent about one-third of everyone with the bacterial disease.

DIPLOMACY Lipavský summons Iranian ambassador after attack

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has summoned Iranian ambassador to Czechia Seyed Majid Ghafeleh Bashi to address the recent attack on Israel by Iran. Lipavský stated that the Iranian regime, with support from Russia, has crossed boundaries and endangered the region's security. Katerina Sequensová, chief director of the Foreign Ministry, also spoke with the ambassador. This comes after Iran's retaliation for an alleged Israeli air strike on their consulate in Damascus. 

Politics Czech PM lands in US to meet President Biden

Prime Minister Petr Fiala landed in Washington for a meeting with President Biden early Monday morning. The meeting will focus on security cooperation and aid for Ukraine amid the Russian conflict. Discussions will encompass bilateral economic ties, nuclear energy, and recent Middle Eastern developments. Fiala will also engage with Czech expatriates and address the Hudson Institute before congressional talks about a stalled USD 95 billion foreign aid package. The visit underscores strong Czech-U.S. relations amid global challenges.

Society Czechs society aging faster than anticipated

Labour Minister Marian Jurečka revealed that Czech society is aging faster than anticipated, highlighting the imminent need for pension reform. The upcoming report on pension system development underscores this urgency. Proposed adjustments, including raising the retirement age, face opposition from ANO and trade unions. The deficit in the pension insurance system hit a record high in 2023. Discussions persist on reform strategies, with the next meeting set for April 22 at the Presidential Office.

Economy Minimum wage could be CZK 27,400 in 2029

The Czech Ministry of Finance forecasts a rise in the minimum wage to approximately CZK 27,400 by 2029, reaching 47 percent of the average wage, Labor Minister Marian Jurečka said in an interview with Czech TV. Currently, at CZK 18,900, the minimum wage is set to increase gradually under a proposed amendment to the Labor Code, reaching 47 percent of the average wage by 2029. The move aims to comply with EU directives on minimum wage standards.

Weather Record warm weekend followed by rainy week

A significant cooling trend is expected in the Czech Republic after a record-warm weekend, with summer temperatures unlikely in the near future. Meteorologists predict rain, showers, and snow at higher elevations. Nighttime temperatures will dip below freezing. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute forecasts cloudy conditions with occasional thunderstorms today, with temperatures ranging from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius. Cooling will persist through the week, with temperatures below average and snowfall in mountainous regions.

Environment Fifteen tons of garbage cleared from riverbanks

Over 15 tons of garbage were cleared from the Sázava riverbanks by 700 volunteers during this weekend’s annual Clean Sázava River event. Participants removed small waste, including plastic bags and discarded furniture, along the Kácov to Pikovice stretch. Challenges included debris tangled in bushes and fallen trees. Organizers appreciate increased corporate involvement and emphasize ongoing opportunities for public participation in cleaning efforts.

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