CDA calls for 40-hour working week
18 August 2006, AMSTERDAM — The Christian Democrat CDA wants a 40-hour working week to become the norm again in the Netherlands.
18 August 2006
AMSTERDAM — The Christian Democrat CDA wants a 40-hour working week to become the norm again in the Netherlands.
The 40-hour week — which would be first introduced in the public service — was one of the party's key election policies presented on Thursday.
The CDA hopes a longer working week will help the nation cover the costs of the aging population. Currently, the working week in the Netherlands is 36 hours.
In other policies, the CDA said it wants to boost employment, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Friday.
And efforts will be made to make the healthcare system more efficient. The costs of a stay in hospital would no longer be covered by the AWBZ health insurance scheme.
In combination with a forecast economic growth rate of 1.75 percent per year, the CDA thinks these measures will lead to a 1 percent budget surplus. This could in turn allow state debt to be paid off within 25 years.
The CDA therefore believes it will not have to impose cuts to the AOW old age pension scheme — cuts that every other party believes are necessary to pay for the aging population.
Furthermore, the party envisions 15,000 fewer public servants, aiming for social organisations and commercial enterprises to take over various government tasks.
Increased funding would be allocated to childcare and child allowance, while rental subsidies will be increased and a special fund set up to assist first home buyers. The tax deduction on mortgage interest will be left untouched.
To boost the social involvement of youth, the CDA is proposing that every student undergo a trainee placement for three months. To boost employment, the party is prepared to allow employers to pay the minimum wage for two years. All other costs would be paid for by the government.
But Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos said the CDA policies were "ominous". He said the CDA is the same wolf in sheep's clothing seen at the 2002 and 2003 elections. "Nice words before the election and thereafter rock hard economising," he said.
Liberal VVD leader Mark Rutte was more positive: "This appears to be a party with which we could do business with," he said. However, he also regretted that the CDA failed to show ambition.
Trade union federations FNV and CNV said that they will not permit the re-introduction of the 40-hour working week. FNV deputy chairman Ton Heerts said it reminded him of the lash.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news