Czechs protest austerity in largest strike in 20 years

Czechs protest austerity in largest strike in 20 years

Closed schools and school cafeterias, limited service in public offices, hospitals receiving only urgent cases, closed museums, theaters or zoos.

Today’s strike (8th Dec 2010) is the largest one the Czech Republic has seen in the last 20 years, Czech unions claim, estimating that as much as 100,000 people has joined the protest, with the same number supporting it. In addition, 40,000 will join manifestations in 21 cities of the Czech Republic.

The protest is aimed primarily against the government’s regulation about state employees’ salaries, approved yesterday.

The regulation introduces a new system of determining public employees’ salaries. So far, the salaries have been determined strictly by the number of years of work in public office, education and position, with state employees being divided into different „wage classes”. 

The new system will give public offices much larger freedom and flexibility in determining the salaries they pay to their staff.

In addition, the government plans to cut the sum for salaries by 10 percent.

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The changes are part of the government’s overall austerity reforms aimed at cutting the Czech Republic’s budget deficit and sovereign debt.

In a manifestation in Prague, one of the union leaders claimed that “120,000 people are actively participating in the strike, 185,000 is actively supporting it, and 100,000 are sympathizing with it.”

The Czech Republic has roughly 10,7 million inhabitants and massive demonstrations or strikes are very rare in the country.

In the recent months, most EU countries have witnessed some protests or strikes against austerity measures and budget cuts, including Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.

Read more: Czech govt loses majority in Senate. Reforms in danger

Read more: UPDATE: Prague city hall elects new mayor amid protests


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