Czech PM: Agency for Social Inclusion will remain part of the Human Rights Minister's agenda
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka believes the situation at the Agency for Social Inclusion will gradually calm down. He has also rejected its employees' demands for the Agency to be removed from the agenda of Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier.
Sobotka informed the press of his decision after yesterday's meeting with representatives of the dissatisfied employees. "I consider the meeting to have been useful and I believe it will contribute to gradually calming the situation. After completing the selection of a new director for this department, I want to meet again with Minister Dienstbier and representatives of the employees to continue the discussion of the future structure of the Agency, which will remain a part of the Office of the Government and its Human Rights Section," said Sobotka, who also expressed an interest in the Agency being prepared as soon as possible to draw on the new EU funding cycle in order to effectively aid the improvement of the situation of impoverished people in excluded localities.
The employees had demanded independence from Dienstbier and autonomy for their institution. The Human Rights Minister had planned to reorganize it in order to meet the requirements of a new law on civil service that will take effect in July.
The Agency, which is now one department, had originally been slated to be split into two departments. "Mr Prime Minister emphasized more than once that he wants the Agency to remain under Minister Dienstbier, but as a single unit. This is decidedly not news that all of the employees of the Agency might welcome. Very slowly, however, we are moving toward our aims. I can't say whether this is better or worse - it's a compromise," said a representative of the employees' union.
There are 70 staffers currently working for the Agency. They will now be considering what to do next in light of the outcome of yesterday's meeting.
Those who joined last week's strike plan to announce what they will do next at some time today. Dienstbier said yesterday that nothing would change at the Agency regarding its work conditions.
"It is the case that with respect to systematizing the state services, the structure of the Agency as a whole will remain the same as it is today, nothing will change as of 1 July. We will debate that issue later," the Human Rights Minister told the press.
Dienstbier said he is counting on making any eventual changes in January 2016 after reaching an agreement on how to proceed with whoever the new head of the Agency will be and with its staffers. He repeated that he did not see any reason for the staff to continue their protest or resume their strike.
The crisis at the Agency arose after most of the employees stood up for its dismissed director, Martin Šimáček, and expressed disagreement with the planned changes in the Agency's activities. The employees announced a strike, which they then suspended pending the outcome of yesterday's meeting with the Czech Prime Minister.
The name of the new director of the Agency should be published by the end of this week. Whoever it is will start work during June.
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