Donner proposes forcing unemployed to work

4th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

A proposal submitted to the House yesterday would require the unemployed to accept any job they're offered after one year.

THE HAGUE—A majority of the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) supports Minister Piet Hein Donner’s (Social Affairs) proposal that unemployed people receiving benefits for a year or more be required to accept any job they’re offered, even if it’s beneath their educational and skill level, and more poorly paid than the benefits they receive (WW uitkering).

The two majority political parties CDA (Christian Democrat Appeal), PvdA (Labour Party), and the opposition party PVV (Party for Freedom) jointly supported the proposal in a House debate yesterday.

The ChristenUnie, the smallest party, was quite critical of the plan. House member Cynthia Ortega (ChristenUnie) pointed out that people have paid their premiums over a period of time, and therefore have the right to receive 70 percent of their last earned wages.

Ortega believes that long-term unemployed ought to be given a choice between three jobs so that they have some flexibility and feel motivated to get back to work.

The largest governmental party CDA would like to get even tougher. CDA House member Eddy van Hijum would prefer that unemployed receiving WW benefits receive a job offer after six months from the government's employment agency, the UWV.

Donner wasn't interested in offering the unemploed more options, or in becoming even more stringent. He stressed that with the growing economic crisis it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find even one suitable job offer. Additionally, 80 percent of jobless people receiving WW benefits finds work within a year on their own. Therefore, most unemployed job seekers are not in need of UWV assistance in finding work.

SP (Socialist Party) member Paul Ulenbelt accused Donner once again of underutilising skilled workers by requiring engeniers to pick tomatoes in green houses. To which the CDA leader replied that the SP member “spoke with disdain of work in green houses.” The Minister is of the opinion that it can be “very good for the self reflection of highly educated people to work in green houses at a certain moment in their lives.”

Opposition parties VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) and D66 (Democrats 66) expressed concern that the plan would cost more money than it would save in the end; and that at a time when the cabinet needs to make billions of euros in cuts. They pointed out the extra costs of salary subsidies for workers and the fact of temporarily subsidizing a lower salary with WW in the event someone takes a job providing less income than their unemployment benefits.

NRC Handelsblad/Lila Lundquist/Expatica

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