Labour Research June 2012

European news

Czech Republic to see major protest

ČMKOS, the Czech Republic’s main union confederation, is organising a major national action later this month in protest against the austerity policies of the country’s centre-right government led by Petr Nečas.

Although the union has avoided the term general strike, it is likely that the action will involve work stoppages. It follows a series of actions including marches, the occupation of ministries involved in implementing the cuts and a demonstration on pensions in May.

A forecast produced last month by the European Commission suggests that the Czech economy will not grow at all in 2012 after contracting in the last two quarters of 2011.

Despite this, the government is pushing ahead with its austerity measures, which include a 1% increase in VAT and keeping most public sector pay frozen until 2014.

Against this economic background, and with a major corruption scandal involving the leader of one of the parties in government, it is not surprising that protest has grown.

In April, the Stop the Government movement, which brings together the unions and another 20 civic protest groups, organised the largest demonstration in the capital Prague for 15 years. Around 90,000 people took part, according to the police, with organisers saying that 120,000 to 160,000 participated.