One day after Greece was paralyzed by a general strike and violent protests, Czech labor unions stage a massive, 24-hour strike in a protest against the austerity reforms planned by the Czech center-right government (more about the strike here and here).
This article will provide you with a LIVE COVERAGE of the traffic situation in Prague, where major disruptions are expected.
2:45 PM – Now it is sure that there will be no metro service in Prague until Friday morning.
1:24 PM – So far, probably the most surprising aspect of the strike was that, contrary to pessimistic expectations, there were no serious traffic problems during the morning rush hour. In fact, many people commented on the Facebook page of Aktualne.cz (http://www.facebook.com/Aktualne.cz) that they were happy to see silent, half-empty streets with people using more eco-friendly (and healthier) means of transport – walking, bicycle, roller skates, etc. Do you feel the same, or have a different opinion? Please feel free to leave your comment also on the Facebook page of CzechNews (http://www.facebook.com/CzechNews).
12:40 PM – Next destination: the seat of the Czech government (Straka’s Academy). No vegetables tossed here. The protest ends, people are leaving.
11:57 AM – The protesters arrived at the Finance Ministry. Minister Miroslav Kalousek decided to speak to them, but was immediately met with insults. Police had to intervene to protect the politician and calm down the situation. Eventually, some tomatoes were hurled at Kalousek (on a less serious note: after the E. coli outbreak in Germany, throwing vegetables at somebody can potentially be an act of biological terrorism). Unionists also chanted “Gestapo” at the intervening police.
10:36 AM – Manifesting strikers have left the Palacký Square and are heading towards the Finance Ministry situated in the historic Malá Strana district, a few minutes of walk from the Charles Bridge.
10:22 AM – The Prague Transport Company management said that the employees that decided to work today were subjected to humiliation and verbal insults by the strikers when they showed up to work. Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said that by doing that, labor unions broke their promise not to prevent anybody from working. However, the unions said there was no hostile behavior against those who decided not to participate in the strike.
9:31 AM – The march arrived at the Palacký Square where a demonstration is being held.
9:01 AM – Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice said that Prague’s car traffic flows without problems, more or less as it does on weekends.
8:36 AM – The march is blocking the 10 and 22 tram lines near IP Pavlova.
8:24 AM – So far, the strike has not produced any disruptions to the operation of the Prague Ruzyně Airport. The bus connections (119 line from Dejvická and 110 from Zličín) work well. Also, as always, there is a large quantity of taxicabs.
7:53 AM – A planned protest march through the Prague center is due to start at 8 AM. The march will disrupt the key 22 tram line. Organizers from labor unions fear provocateurs. However, mass violence seen yesterday during the Greek general strike, is not expected to repeat in the much more tranquil Czech Republic.
7:17 AM – As widely expected, ńeither of the three lines of the Prague metro is operated, but there is a limited bus and tram service (98 buses and 68 trams run in Prague today, to be specific). It appears that among the operated lines are tram lines number 1, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, and 20, and bus lines number 135, 136. Importantly, the 119 line from Dejvická to Airport (Ruzyně) is operated too.
00:30 AM (CEST) – It’s past midnight in the Czech Republic, so the strike has officially begun. However, we will have to wait until the morning rush hour to see its real scope. So far, it is certain that trains will not run. The Prague public transport is expected to be severely disrupted, causing massive traffic jams. However, there is still a possibility of a limited metro service.
It is still unclear how much will the Prague public transport be paralyzed on Thursday 16 June. Praguers will have to wait until early morning hours to see whether the metro, tram, or bus services will be at least partially available.
That’s why the Prague city hall suggests people use special ferry line from Modřany to Rašínovo nábřeží (via Braník and Žluté Lázně). Another option suggested by the city hall is to ride on scooter, or to avoid going to Prague at all if possible.
Also, if there will be some public transport service, the city hall assures there will be no ticket controls. In addition, policemen will be more benevolent to drivers parking in “blue zones” without permit.
Martin Dvořák, the director of the Prague Transport Company, believes that there will be a limited metro service tomorrow. “We will surely depart a certain percentage of buses and trams,” he added.
However, labor union leaders as well as Prague police expect that the metro will not operate.