Czech One-Day Transport Strike Against Reforms Ends

The strike of transport unions that stopped all trains in the Czech Republic for 24 hours and limited public transport in the capital city ended at midnight.

The unions protested against the planned reforms of the tax, healthcare, welfare and tax systems.

Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) announced that his coalition government definitely will not give up its reform plans but he said he was prepared to negotiate about the form of concrete reform steps.

After a rally on Thursday morning, some 2000 people marched through Prague to the Finance Ministry and the Government Office.

Trains will start to operate on schedule again. The Prague metro system that stopped functioning for the first time ever will reopen early morning as usual. No collapse occurred in the capital, however. Many people stayed at home and rode bicycles. Trains were replaced by buses hired by state authorities.

The unions originally wanted to block main roads but finally decided against it.

The strike was organised by the Coalition of Transport Unions (KDOS) and supported by both major umbrella unions, the CMKOS and Czech Association of Independent Trade Unions (ASO).

Necas claims that the strike was a political protest that only increased tension and caused economic damage.

ASO head Bohumir Dufek said he believes the strike will help revise the reforms in such a way that they are acceptable even for poor people.

Representatives of the government and the unions will again start negotiating on Monday within the meeting of the tripartite council, including also the employers.

Necas said on Thursday trade unions did not really represent employees and the same was true of employers's associations within the talks in the tripartite.

kva/dr

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