Friday, 25 April 2014

Kalousek rejects trade unions' protest on national holiday

19 November 2012

Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - The Saturday protest against the government by trade unions and civic groups was legitimate, but it is outrageous to call for changes in the system on November 17, the Czech national holiday, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Czech Television Sunday.

The government will not "execute any socialist programme," Kalousek said.

Kalousek commented on the demand of some civic groups that they want a different democracy.

He asked whether they wished a "Communist democratic centralism."

Kalousek said the defects of the existing system in the Czech Republic, such as surviving corruption and cronyism, could not be any reason for a change to the system.

"After the experience with totalitarian regimes, I consider demanding changes to the system just on November 17 outrageous," Kalousek said.

Senate chairman Milan Stech (Social Democrats, CSSD) and former trade union leader, told the commercial television station Prima Family that the demonstrations had taken place along the organisers' plans and that was what said there corresponded with the majority view of the Czech public.

Turning to the number of the demonstrators, Stech said he expected people from Prague and its environs would come to the rally.

The police have estimated the number of demonstrators at 10,000, while trade unions claim it was maybe 25,000.

Stech said many people had not appeared for fear of loss of jobs if they were seen on television screens.

Jaroslav Kubera, chairman of the senators' group of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said the claim was exaggerated and from "the realm of dreams."

"The problem is that trade unions have run out of money and they can no longer finance the arrival of activists from across the nation," Kubera said.

The smaller than expected participation was also caused by November 17 being the national holiday, due to which a number of Prague shops were closed, he added.

Kubera warned of a general strike as at the time of a recession it would harm the economy, employers and employees, too.

Stech said a short strike would not have any major economic impact.

The demonstrations were held on the occasion of the Czech national holiday that commemorates the victims of the 1939 Nazi brutal action against students and the end of the Communist regime in 1989.

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