- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Trade Unionists Plan Protests Against Government’s Budget Consolidation Package
Czech trade unionists have announced their intention to hold four protests before the holidays to voice their opposition to the government’s budget consolidation package. Josef Stredula, the head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS), revealed the plans after a meeting of the CMKOS council. If the government does not accept the unionists’ proposed modifications to the package, they will organize another protest in September. The unions are also proposing that the debate between the government, trade unions, and employers regarding the consolidation package be moderated by President Petr Pavel.
Trade unions have been critical of the package since its inception and have been on strike alert since mid-May. Stredula outlined the first protest event, scheduled for Tuesday in Strakonice, South Bohemia, organized by the KOVO union. Further rallies will be held in Ostrava and Zlin on June 27, followed by a public sector rally in Prague on June 29. Stredula emphasized the potential escalation of the situation if changes are not made.
Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura stated last week that the government did not intend to make significant changes to the package following a meeting with trade unionists. Stredula urged the government to consider the feedback and take it into account.
On June 28, the government will discuss numerous amendments to the austerity budget before presenting it to the Chamber of Deputies. Union leaders plan to negotiate with both opposition and coalition MPs to reshape the package.
CMKOS leaders propose that the debate between the government, unions, and employers be moderated by President Pavel. Stredula has already made the request during their last meeting.
According to CMKOS, the government’s consolidation plans disproportionately impact employees and pensioners. They strongly oppose proposed changes to VAT, the reinstatement of sickness insurance for employees, and the elimination of tax credits for employee benefits.
CMKOS has put forward its own set of 12 measures to negotiate with the government. These include the reintroduction of electronic registration of sales (EET) and the repeal of recent tax changes. The trade unionists estimate that the total benefit of their proposed measures would range from CZK 151.5 to 163.5 billion.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala previously dismissed the union’s proposals as unrealistic and insufficient to achieve the necessary savings in public finances.
Article by Prague Forum