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Czech Unions, Schools Strike Against Gov’t Consolidation Package

 Trade unions and schools in the Czech Republic staged strikes and demonstrations on Monday to protest against the government’s consolidation package that seeks to improve the state budget.

“The Czech Republic is facing one of the biggest strikes in 30 years,” Josef Stredula, president of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, the largest trade union association in the Czech Republic that represents 31 unions, said on social media.

More than 7,200 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, or 74 percent of all regional schools in the Czech Republic, completely closed or reduced their operation, the Czech News Agency reported. University unions at some faculties also organized a token strike.

Production at plants of Skoda Auto, the largest Czech carmaker, stopped for two hours in the afternoon.

The unions were protesting against the government’s consolidation package, the pension reform, stagnant public sector salaries, high inflation and insufficient funding for education.

The government’s consolidation package aims to reduce the state budget deficit by some 150 billion Czech crowns (6.73 billion U. S. dollars) over the next two years by cutting back state subsidies and hiking taxes on alcohol, real estate and corporate income. The package was signed into law by the country’s president last week.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has defended the government’s measures. “We have to stop the indebtedness of the state, and the package is a clear way to do that,” he said on social media on Monday.

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