The day of protests was announced on Tuesday by the chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS), Josef Středula.
“I understand that it is the task of the unions to push for wage growth, I also understand that there is quite a lot of tension. As far as my department is concerned, I regularly meet with union representatives and we are trying to find a way to minimize the negative effects in the education budget that could be aimed at the so-called non-pedagogues, i.e. the part of the staff that ensures the operation of schools,” he said on Wednesday morning at Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek (STAN) coming to the government meeting.
At the same time, he ruled out that the operation of kitchens or cleaning in schools would be threatened. He is sure they will find ways to minimize the impact of the savings.
The unions announced a day of protests
The Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš (Pirates) spoke similarly. “If I am asked for a meeting as the chairman of the Pirates or the deputy prime minister, I will comply with it. Recently, I had a short meeting with Mr. Středula, I talked with representatives from Kovo (Trade union representing people from industrial professions, editor’s note)even at the tripartite meeting, the union’s questions are rejected, so it is not true that the government does not talk to the union representatives,” he emphasized.
He says he always tries to find a solution. “For example, from the negotiation of the austerity package, I don’t think it was fair how it was presented in the end. Because the trade unions together with the employers submitted some 12 applications, and I think that in maybe five of them the step on the part of the government was accommodating. It’s like when you don’t have everything, you claim to have nothing. It’s not entirely true,” he added.
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) also told Novinkám that he is continuously negotiating with the unions. “We are negotiating with all social partners within the tripartite framework, and the government’s steps we are taking are rational and lead to managing the problems our country is facing,” he emphasized.
He reminded, for example, that the Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate in the entire European Union or that the government has taken measures to ensure sufficient energy.
“It needs to be emphasized that a number of steps taken by the government will ultimately lead to an increase in real wages and an increase in the standard of living. This is also why steps need to be taken. We are patiently explaining them and we will continue,” Environment Minister Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL) responded to a question about the union strike.
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“We Can Only Have an Opinion”
The Minister for European Affairs Martin Dvořák (STAN) admitted that he understands the trade unions and that their role is to watch over the government so that it does not behave too harshly in the field of social issues.
“On the other hand, I don’t think there is a reason for the protests. Respectively, I think it would be appropriate if the trade unionists also understood the situation we are in in connection with the wars in Ukraine and Israel and a lot of other influences that affect the Czech Republic. So I think they should be more restrained,” he pointed out.
According to him, the government cannot do anything about it. “It’s their right and we can only have an opinion on it,” he said.
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On Wednesday, Tuesday, he announced that the protests would be symbolic on November 27. “Because there was a general strike that day in 1989. That symbolism is important to us,” he emphasized. According to Dvořák, the date is “their decision”, he did not want to comment further.
The chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS) said that the government does not pay much attention to the demands of trade unions and their members as the reason for holding the protest.
“Fundamental reduction in the standard of living of people and their families, proposals in the field of pensions, failure to present a reduction in the retirement age for demanding professions, an increase in energy prices. It is also about the effects of the consolidation package. We consider them fatal, dangerous and worsening the standard of living not only of employees and their families,” said Středula.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), Speaker of the House of Representatives Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) or Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) have not yet responded to Novinek’s question about the announced protests. Likewise the chairmen of both opposition movements.