CT Staff to Strike Until All Hodac's People Quit

Czech News Agency, 14 January 2001

PRAGUE, Jan 14, 2001—(CTK—Czech News Agency) The strike committee of the public Czech Television (CT) union today decided to continue the strike until all people brought to CT by general director Jiri Hodac resign, says the committee's statement which its chairman Antonin Dekoj has given to CTK.

The protesting CT staff have thus rejected the appeal by Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Vaclav Klaus, who earlier today called on the protesters to end the strike. “The strike committee keeps striking in line with its original plan, until the departure of all who have come to CT due to the decision of the incompetent and politicized ex-CT Council and until all of their working and legal moves are cancelled,” the statement says.

It is referring to the December 20 election of Hodac as CT general director by the CT Council dominated by nominees of the ODS and the ruling Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD). Hodac resigned on January 11, but members of his new management remain in their posts. The union members welcome the parliament's effort to find a quick solution to the CT crisis.

However, they are not satisfied with the new CT bill, which the lower house passed in the small hours today, stipulating that, like up to now, members of the CT Council will be elected by the lower house only.

The house's unwillingness to share the choice of CT councilors with the Senate and the president can result in “repeated efforts [of parties] to divide positions in the CT Council by means of backstage political deals,” the statement says.—more As early as Friday night the strike committee called on Vera Valterova, whom Hodac had assigned to manage CT during his illness, to create conditions for an immediate departure of CT news department director Jana Bobosikova, financial director Jindrich Beznoska and other persons who had been “expediently given posts in CT”.

The committee set 12:00 noon today as the deadline for Valterova to meet the demand. If she failed to do so, the staff's strike would be seen on both CT channels' broadcasts, the unions warned. Both channels, nevertheless, have been broadcasting uninterrupted. Only before 2:00 p.m., the 1st channel broadcast a text acquainting viewers with the strike committee's demands—the departure of Hodac's people and the cancellation of all of their hitherto working and legal moves. In December, Bobosikova sacked several dozen protesting reporters. Hodac resigned as CT general director on Thursday.

Bobosikova and Beznoska told CTK today that they were not going to yield to the strikers' demand and resign. “By no means am I going to quit. I know nothing about my living in a country where union members decide on the nomination of their superiors,” Bobosikova said.

She said she would respect it if her dismissal were ordered by a new CT director or another person who is entitled to do so under the law. A similar view was expressed by Beznoska. He also said he was not going to give in to the unions' appeals. “I was appointed by general director Hodac, who had been elected by the CT Council, and therefore I cannot but remain in the post until a body takes over which would either be able to dismiss me or to which I would be able to hand over my resignation. This is definitely not the strike committee or Mr.Dekoj,” Beznoska stressed.

Valterova, to whom the strikers have addressed their demands, has not been available for comment.