Czech Trade Union Confederation Announces Four Protest Actions Before Holidays

Trade unions have been criticising the package since the beginning, and have been on strike alert since mid-May. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, June 19 (CTK) – Czech trade unionists are planning four actions in protest against the government’s budget consolidation package before the holidays, according to Josef Stredula, head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS), speaking to reporters after a meeting of the CMKOS council today.

If the unionists’ proposals for modifications to the draft package are not accepted by the government, they are planning another protest for September. The unions are proposing that the debate between representatives of the cabinet, trade unions and employers on the shape of the consolidation package be moderated by President Petr Pavel.

Trade unions have been criticising the package since the beginning, and have been on strike alert since mid-May.

Stredula specified that the first protest event would take place on Tuesday in Strakonice, South Bohemia, from 6pm. The KOVO union is organising a march there. A week later, on 27 June, further rallies will be organised in Ostrava from 3pm, and in Zlin from 4pm. Trade unionists from the public sector will hold a rally in Prague on 29 June.

“We will focus on the next time slot, and that is September this year. Either things will change or they will continue, and the situation may escalate further,” Stredula said.

Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura (ODS) said last week after a meeting between government politicians and trade unionists that the cabinet was not planning any major changes to the package.

According to Stredula, a “wise government” would consider the comments on the package and take them into account.

The government is due to discuss dozens of amendments to the austerity budget on 28 June. It will then be presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The union leaders then want to focus on negotiating with both opposition and coalition MPs to change the shape of the package.

CMKOS leaders are proposing that the debate between the government, unions and employers on the form of the package should be moderated by Pavel. Stredula said he had already asked him to do so at the last meeting.

According to CMKOS, the government’s consolidation plans are directed against employees and pensioners. Their main objections are to the proposed changes to VAT, the restoration of sickness insurance for employees, and the abolition of tax credits for employee benefits.

CMKOS has proposed its own set of 12 measures that it wants to negotiate with the government. These include the reinstatement of the electronic registration of sales (EET) and the repeal of tax changes from recent years. Trade unionists have calculated the total benefit at CZK 151.5 to 163.5 billion.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) previously said that the unions’ proposals were not realistic and would not ensure the required savings to the public finances.

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