Jiří Gruntorád, the signatory of Charter 77 and the founder of the Samizdat and exile literature library Libri prohibiti, criticizes the failure to solve the problem of low pensions for dissidents. Because of this, he demands the resignation of Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL). He went on hunger strike to support his demand. The Šalamoun association told the ČTK agency.
Jurečka has already told journalists that his ministry is preparing a solution to the problem of low dissident pensions. The press department of the Ministry of Labor announced on Saturday that the minister ordered the social administration to re-examine the case and pension of one of the dissidents.
The small pensions of opponents of the communist regime are often accompanied by imprisonment, forced emigration or the inability to work. Thus, they could not pay the levies long enough. Many people were also not allowed to work in their original profession and only performed auxiliary work with low earnings, which was reflected in a low pension. Not all of them received pension supplements for resistance fighters.
For example, Dana Němcová, who was one of the most prominent faces of Czech dissent, had a pension of several thousand crowns. She was behind the creation of Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. She ended up in prison for her anti-regime stances. She was only allowed to work as a cleaner and housekeeper, even though she was studying psychology. As a mother of seven children, she spent many years caring for her offspring.
The 71-year-old Gruntorád said in a statement that small pensions represent “a protracted problem of a failed law”, with which Parliament originally wanted to express respect and gratitude to dissidents for defending freedom and democracy under a totalitarian regime.
“It grants participants of the resistance and resistance against communism the right to an average pension, but not everyone, although the legislators probably had this intention, because otherwise this provision would be meaningless,” said Gruntorád, who was imprisoned twice during the totalitarian regime.
He mentioned that together with other dissidents, they wrote a letter to Prime Minister Petar Fial (ODS) last August and asked for a solution. They received the answer that they can request the removal of the harshness of the law, i.e. the recalculation of the pension. So one of the dissidents turned to Jurečka with this request.
The minister rejected it, recommended social benefits. According to Gruntorád, the solution has not yet been adopted. “Now it is no longer about Karel Soukup’s retirement pension, but about the moral integrity of the entire government. I think that the demand for the resignation of Marian Jurečka from the post of minister is appropriate to the situation,” said Gruntorád.
The press department of the ministry announced on Saturday that Jurečka ordered a new investigation into the Karel Soukup case. The social administration is supposed to start dealing with it on Monday. According to the press department, the decision on the current partial Czech pension was based on the fact that Soukup spent a significant part of his life outside the Czech Republic and should have a foreign pension.
Jurečka told journalists in May that the ministry is preparing a solution to the problem of low pensions for dissidents. The head of the Ministry’s Department of Social Insurance, Tomáš Machanec, said at the time that the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR) should participate in it. He could issue certificates to dissidents. The adjustment of the dissident pension would be decided by the social administration when the harshness of the law was relaxed. She would be given instructions on how to proceed.
The Czech Social Security Administration is already deciding to remove the harshness of the law on the authority of the Minister of Labor, for example, for applicants who have been caring for helpless loved ones for a long time or who have been ill. It reevaluates the period of contributions, takes into account the postponement of the payment of insurance premiums or recalculates the pension.