Dutch News in brief, Tuesday 27 January 2009

27th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

Mass redundancies at ING, Philips and Corus

Today's Dutch papers are reeling from Monday's announcement that major Dutch companies have decided to cut a total of 16,500 jobs worldwide: 7000 at ING, 6000 at Philips and 3500 at Corus. It looks like the Netherlands will suffer its share of the redundancies.

Trouw describes Monday as "a pitch black day for the job market" while a number of the other papers look bleakly to the future. "There's worse to come," sighs De Telegraaf's headline. The paper goes on to warn that "The mass redundancies announced yesterday won't be the last."

It's a view shared by nrc.next: "Better start getting used to the word 'mass redundancy' ... Six months ago it seemed unthinkable, but now it's reality" The paper reminds us of how bad things can get with a grim two-page photo of a mass demonstration against youth unemployment from 1978.

By way of contrast, AD seems determined to look on the bright side. "Wave of redundancies remains limited" is its take on the job cuts. It reassures us that "Dutch companies are going easy on their personnel." The paper talks to Professor of Economics Kees van Paridon who says: "Things on the Dutch labour market remain tight. Unlike other countries we still have very little unemployment. Companies will do everything they can to keep their talented workers. After all, once they're gone you can't get them back..."

Bos and ING

ING's job cuts were not the only bad news for the banking giant on Monday. It was also announced that the Dutch government is wading in to help the bank again by taking over 22 billion euros' worth of bad mortgages. De Volkskrant reports that the move has prompted the first real criticism of Finance Minister Wouter Bos, who has been the hero of the hour since the credit crunch hit.

"In earlier rescue operations, parliament wasted no time in closing ranks behind crisis manager Bos ... but now dissent is starting to grow." The paper reports that while "most of the other parties have their doubts," it's the Socialists who have been most outspoken in their criticism: "ING gets to keep the good risks and the bad ones go to the government," grumbles a party spokesman. "The tax payer is being left to clean up this financial mess."

De Volkskrant's editorial expresses similar doubts. While it sees "round two" of the rescue operation as inevitable and consistent with "the credit-crisis recipe book that's being compiled by trial and error," it also sees "considerable risks for the taxpayer" and warns that "now the general economic downturn is reducing the banks' assets still further ... no one is daring to predict that phase two of the rescue operation will be the last."

Policemen behaving badly
With CCTV on the streets and cameras now featuring as standard in many mobile phones, nrc.next reports that life has become a little tougher for our boys and girls in blue. Under the headline "What's all this then, officer?" the paper reports that these days "citizens are keeping tabs on the police as much as the police are keeping tabs on citizens." It warns that "it's time for the police to fully realise the impact that the Internet is having."

Its article lists a range of police misdemeanours captured on camera and published in newspapers and on websites: "a motorcycle cop urinating against a church wall…a police car with its number plate obscured…a police car double parked outside a Chinese take-away…and another with lights that don't comply with regulations."

It's hardly the stuff of high drama, especially compared with the US, where footage of the assault of Rodney King by members of the Los Angeles police force sparked race riots back in 1991. Karin Lasthuizen lecturer in integrity in public administration at VU University Amsterdam points out "these Dutch examples are not so much moral issues as a lack of professionalism. But officers need to be aware that they work in a glass house. And media like the Internet have made it even more transparent."

Two birds with one stone

Trouw reports that Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport plans to reduce noise pollution with a noise barrier that also generates energy. The design—a tent that stretches for kilometres along one of the airport's runways—will not only reduce noise levels by seven decibels but will also produce enough energy for 600 households.

This eco-barrier is the brainchild of Amsterdam City Council employee Toine van Goethem and was declared the winner of a design competition organised by Schiphol. Inside the tent, wastewater from the airport will be processed in a long shallow algae-filled basin to produce bio-fuel. The tent's light fibre-glass construction means it won't pose a danger if a plane were to leave the runway and crash into it.

It looks like the only people who might lose out are the plane-spotters, whose view of the runway will be obscured by the 11-metre-high construction. However, Trouw assures them that Schiphol is already on the lookout for a new plane-spotting location.

Jack the Knipper strikes again

De Telegraaf and AD report on a mysterious case of sabotage at a 13-storey block of flats in the town of Zeist. "Once again most of the 2300 residents have had to climb the stairs because 14 of the 16 lifts were out of order." A saboteur had struck for the fourth time in as many months, cutting through the lifts' electrical cables. The housing association is at pains to point out that the cables being cut are the relatively thin electrical cables that keep the lifts in operation, not the thick steel cables the lifts are actually suspended on.

The culprit has been dubbed Jack the Knipper—"knip" being the Dutch word for cut. The authorities are no closer to tracking him down, though there are a few clues that might narrow the possible suspects: "He must have a knowledge of lifts and he clearly doesn't mind taking risks, as you have to climb up on top of the lift to cut the cables."

Radio Netherlands/David Doherty/Expatica

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