Massive strike to paralyze Prague, Czech Republic
10. 6. 2011 15:50
Czech labor unions to protest against health care and pension system reforms planned by center-right government
Jihlava se snaží kloubit bezbariérovost zastávek i spojů.
Jihlava se snaží kloubit bezbariérovost zastávek i spojů. | Foto:

Prague - From Madrid to Athens, EU governments are currently seeing mounting opposition of some social sectors against austerity reforms.

On Monday 13 June, this protest wave will flood the Czech Republic, and above all its capital, with massive strike and blockades planned by the country's labor unions on the same day. The capital is expected to be totally paralyzed - it is likely that even the subway will not operate.

Read more: Czechs protest austerity in largest strike in 20 years
Read more: Czech Rep: Only EU state to increase deficit in 2011?

The strike will be probably the largest protest against the center-right government established approximately one year ago and the austerity reforms it plans. However, rather than by popular protests, the coalition is currently threatened above all by its own internal rupture, and it is increasingly uncertain whether it will be able to complete its full term.

Read more: After cabinet reshuffle, Czech gov crisis ends. For now

Public transport halted, transit arteries blocked

Public transport in several other important cities in addition to the capital - Brno, Plzeň, Opava, Olomouc - is expected to come to a halt as well. In addition, unionists in some other cities, such as Ostrava, are still negotiating their possible participation in the strike.

The strike will start at 3 AM, and because no time limit is set, it is not sure when it will end. There are rumors going that it should end at 4 PM, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied by trade unions. "The day has 24 hours," said a member of one of the labor unions.

Both passenger and freight trains will stop at 3 AM and won't resume their operation until 4 PM, assured Jaromír Dušek, a labor union leader. This will include international high-speed trains which will have to wait at the Czech borders until the strike is ended in order to be allowed to enter the country. Dušek added that the Prague subway will be paralyzed in the same way.

Prague's key arteries are going to be blocked by protesters, in addition labor unions consider a massive march through the capital. There may be blockades on other important highways in the Czech Republic as well.

Miners and Czech Post logistics employees will join the strike too, air traffic workers have not announced their participation yet.

Prague's crisis committee is meeting today to prepare crisis scenarios for Monday. The committee has said that people shouldn't plan to go to Prague on Monday unless they work in the capital, and parents should consider not sending their children to school on that day.

A police helicopter will monitor the situation in the capital.

PM Nečas: "Hostage-taking"

The management of the Prague Public Transit company will meet with labor unionists today.

PM Petr Nečas said that he will not deny anybody their right to strike, but that according to him it is no acceptable that a protest would affect the life in the country to such degree. "The government will not succumb to the pressure, but it is prepared to continue negotiating with labor unions," Nečas said, adding that labor unionists cannot take citizens hostage.

According to Jaroslav Zavadil, another labor union boss, the strike can evolve into a long-term protest. "We call for the government to use its common sense. Otherwise it is possible that the strike will get a different character," Zavadil threatened.

Czech labor unions want the government to withdraw the health care reform and adopt a different approach to the pension reform.

Transport strike will be supported by miners from Ostrava and Northern Bohemia who plan to block main traffic arteries in Prague. A leader of mining labor union, Jan Sábel, said that there will be around one hundred of them, refusing to give details about the protest.

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Zdroj: ČTK
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