Thousands take to Prague streets to protest against pension changes

Czechia's largest trade union convened the protest, which was attended by Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and supporters of the Communist Party.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 30.03.2023 07:30:00 (updated on 30.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Over 2,000 workers from around Czechia Wednesday protested in the center of Prague against proposed changes to pensions and the EU-wide Euro 7 emissions-reducing standard. 

Members of the largest trade union in the country, KOVO, organized the protest and presented to the government six issues they would like to change. The current administration, according to the union, should resign if it is not able to comply.

Earlier retirement and tax reform

Among the demonstrators’ wishes is the possibility to retire early for people in the so-called third or fourth “categories” of jobs in Czechia, which are considered risky to health (such as dealing with hazardous chemicals). Around 400,000 people in Czechia work in these job types.

The trade union also outright rejects a potential increase to the Czech retirement age.

Protestors called for a “fair tax reform” which would not negatively affect the elderly, families, or the poor. 

KOVO, which belongs to the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, also criticized a previous decision to abolish Czechia’s super gross wage (which had been made by a different administration – ANO) and called for the government to reintroduce it.

Former Prime Minister and head of the opposition ANO movement Andrej Babiš joined in the protest and encouraged participants to hold future demonstrations against the government. “You are the most important,” said the billionaire.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the demonstration partly “absurd” because the full parameters of the country’s pension reform have not yet been fully set. “It is hard to say what they are protesting against," he remarked today.

In a protest that appeared to transcend the political spectrum, numerous supporters of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia also attended.

Fears about job losses

The Euro 7 emissions standard – which is set to place strict limits on EU vehicles’ non-exhaust emissions and is planned to be enforced from 2025 – was another grievance. 

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Office for rent, 47m<sup>2</sup>

Office for rent, 47m2

Václavské náměstí, Praha 1 - Nové Město

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 77m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 77m2

Rohanské nábřeží, Praha 8 - Karlín

Apartment for rent, Atypical layout, 56m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Atypical layout, 56m2

Na slupi, Praha 2 - Nové Město

Unions fear big job losses due to Euro 7, as manufacturers would not be able to sell certain types of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035. This would hit the Czech manufacturing industry, and therefore workers, hard.

Fiala said this week, however, that the government is also opposed to elements of the Euro 7 standard. Indeed, in February this year Czech Minister of Transport Martin Kupka called on the European Commission to change and delay the plan. The government was even said to be looking for other international allies against Euro 7.

More protests are likely until the government officially appeases KOVO’s wishes.

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