Czechs protest austerity in largest strike in 20 years
8. 12. 2010 12:51
Czech public sector workers protested changes and cuts in salaries
Trade unions' manifestation in Prague
Trade unions' manifestation in Prague | Foto: Petr Jemelka

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

Today's strike 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.

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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.

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

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In the afternoon, the spokeswoman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, Jana Kašparová, said to the Czech News Agency that 148,000 out of roughly 650,000 state employees actively participated in the strike, while another 190,000 expressed their support.

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.

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