The biggest grouping of Czech trade unions plans to follow up on the massive “Stop the Government” protest march on Saturday in Prague, attended by an estimated 100,000 people, with what actions it promises the center-right government will feel to its core.
Saying the time for talk has passed, the leader of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trades Unions (ČMKOS) said on Wednesday that the grouping had decided not participate in further tripartite meetings with the current and would instead plan further protests; ČMKOS chairman Jaroslav Zavadil said, promising these actions “will hurt the government.”
Following Wednesday’s regular Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) said in reaction to Zavadil’s threat that his government was ready to meet, but could not compel the unions to attend — and did not intend to succumb to pressure tactics.‘The government was, is, and will be ready to act. Those who are inflaming tensions are clearly the union leaders.’
Nečas has said that the unionists are closely linked to the left-wing parties, the main opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD) and Communists (KSČM), and their decision to boycott the tripartite meetings smacked of political militancy. “The government was, is, and will be ready to act. Those who are inflaming tensions are clearly the union leaders,” he told a news conference.
ČMKOS, which organized the “Week of Action” campaign against the government that culminated in the “Stop the Government” protest on Saturday — which the trade unions say is the biggest protest action since the Velvet Revolution — is calling to for Nečas to abandon the coalition government’s program of austerity measures, resign and call early elections.
Apart from trade unionists, the march drew supporters of the ProAlt and Fόrum Alternativ civic movements and, more controversially, the so-called Holešov Appeal initiative, which has helped staged a series of demonstrations calling for the government’s resignation over recent weeks across the country.
Nečas has called for a vote of confidence to be held in his government on Friday as the best test of its staying power and support in the lower house of parliament following the departure of Public Affairs (VV) from the coalition, which now consists of the ODS and TOP 09, with a pledge of support from 10 MPs aligned with ex-VV member Karolína Peake, who is forming her own political platform.
The ODS and TOP 09 have 92 mandates in the 200-seat lower house of parliament, and so need the support of at least nine other MPs to continue as a majority government.