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Czech News in English » Business » HN: Czech trade unions plan to sell its seat in Prague

HN: Czech trade unions plan to sell its seat in Prague

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Prague, June 15 (CTK) – The Czech trade unions plan to sell their headquarters, a large building from the 1930s in the Prague-Zizkov neighbourhood, the price of which is estimated at 300 million crowns, due to high maintenance costs and investments in it, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote on Thursday.

Representatives of the trade unions will be deciding on the sale of the whole administrative complex. According to HN sources, the proposal enjoys sufficient support of the unions’ representatives.

HN writes that the unions’ property is administered by the Property, Administration and Delimitation Union of the Trade Unions (MSDU OS) that was established after the fall of the communist regime in 1990 as a legal successor organisation of the communist Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (ROH).

It administered an enormous property worth billions of crowns then, including administrative buildings and recreational facilities. The organisation gradually sold or transferred them to particular trade unions. At present, it owns ten buildings, including the headquarters, and two hotels in Prague, Olsanka and Imperial.

HN writes that the seat of the CMKOS umbrella trade union organisation is not fully used and it is hard to lease all empty offices inside. Not to discourage possible tenants, the unions even removed a huge blue neon sign “The House of Trade Unions” from the top of the building a couple of years ago.

“The occupancy of the house keeps diminishing and we do not need such a big building,” Karel Sladkovsky, deputy chairman of the MSDU OS, told HN about the reasons for its planned sale.

The trade unions refused to release the estimated selling price. Two consultancy firms, which requested anonymity, said the investors might pay some 300 million crowns for the multi-storey building of almost 12,000 square metres with 630 offices and several flats.

However, the planned construction of a new administrative centre on the adjacent plot might lower the price even more, HN writes.

Moreover, the functionalist building of the trade union headquarters from the first half of the 1930s, which was the first high-rise building in Prague, has the status of protected architectonic heritage and its reconstruction and maintenance are subject to strict rules of the heritage protection authority. This also increases the costs, HN adds.

The proceeds from leasing of the premises have not covered the total costs of the building for long, according to the trade unions’ representatives.

Last year’s reconstruction of air-conditioning, the boiler room and windows cost 150 million crowns and the necessary reconstruction of the facade made of white tiles would cost another 100 million, Sladkovsky said.

“Moreover, due to the heritage protection, we are not allowed to change the interior layout on particular floors,” he added.

Some 80 percent od the building are occupied now. Trade unions use a half of the house, while the rest is leased to other public offices as well as private firms. Some 120 are seated there now, HN writes.

The historical building cannot compete with the number of new administrative centres in Prague, Sladkovsky told HN.

The paper writes that the trade unions have been considering selling their seat for several years. The plan was postponed in 2015 and the MSDU OS returned to it this year. The final decision is expected on Friday.

However, there are also arguments against the sale despite the high costs. Some unionists mainly fear of negative publicity that the step might provoke.

The current head of the CMKOS, Josef Stredula, was opposed to the sale three years ago, when he headed the influential KOVO trade union of metal industry workers. But he has changed his mind with time and now he rather tends to support the idea as the real estate price have considerably increased in this attractive locality, he told HN.

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