Prague, 4 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus warned today that a strike by tens of thousands of railway workers in the country could speed up layoffs in the industry.
He said the railway workers should think twice about what impact the strike may have.
Analysts say the Czech railway system is obsolete and at least a third of the 100,000 railway workers have to be laid off to improve the system's efficiency.
Fearing such layoffs, railway unions today began a 48-hour strike, which shut down the entire network. Hundreds of thousands of passengers -- Czech commuters and international travellers -- found themselves stranded when the trains stopped running at midnight.
Negotiations between the unions and the Transport Ministry are continuing. The unions say if an agreement is not reached, the strike will be extended a day at a time. The unions are demanding the firing of the railways' pro-reform management and guarantees against layoffs.