Dutch news in brief, Friday 13 February 2009

13th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Wilders circus sent back home

The front pages of all the papers report on yesterday's fiasco when controversial Islam critic and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders and his media circus tried to enter Great Britain. Wilders and his entourage took up the first two rows of the aircraft. And a third of the plane was taken up by at least 50 journalists. Much to the irritation of many unsuspecting passengers who didn't even know who he was. Even the plane's captain was annoyed by the journalists as they swarmed around Britain's first parliamentary persona non grata.

At two o'clock, the plane touched down, and in a conversation lasting only 45 seconds immigration officials told Wilders he would not be let into the country. But he already knew that. De Volkskrant writes: "Wilders wouldn't be Wilders if he didn't seek confrontation."

The trip has not been totally in vain. In spite of Wilders' denials that his fruitless journey was a publicity stunt, people in the UK have certainly heard about him now. And there's an invitation to Italy in the post from a right-wing Lega Nord MP.

Cabinet forced to cut public spending

De Volkskrant, AD and nrc.next report that the cabinet will have to make huge cuts in public spending to meet its own budget regulations. The economic malaise has meant a drop in tax revenue and increased spending on social benefits. To cover the enormous budget deficit, the cabinet will have to find ways to save a total of 20 billion euros.

Recently the three coalition parties announced "unorthodox measures" would be taken. The problem is they do not seem to be able to agree on which measures to take. The Christian Union is defending the tax relief for families with one parent staying at home, the Christian Democrats don't want to touch tax relief on mortgages, and the Labour Party is reluctant to freeze benefits. There is some consolation, at an estimated two percent, it's not the worst budget deficit on record. Ruud Lubbers' first cabinet survived a six percent deficit. And in 1982, Van Agt's government fell over budgetary squabbles.

Polish workers leave UK for the Netherlands

The economic crisis has led to an influx of Poles from Great Britain entering the Netherlands. Trouw reports that the number of Poles coming to work in the Netherlands from the UK since the credit crisis has grown explosively. Many are going back to Poland. But prosects in the mother country are not as good as they were two years ago. The Netherlands is the second favourite destination after Germany. Why? Well, one Pole explains, "We like the free mentality. Drinking vodka and smoking dope are allowed." Even the Dutch national coach for the Polish football team Leo Beenhakker is given this as one of the reasons for the Netherlands' popularity.

Polish workers are pushing out other workers with a foreign background. They speak good English are cheaper and more obedient, says one union official. The Poles complain about the low pay, high rents, dismissal if they are off sick. Nevertheless, they fear even lower pay if the so-called Polish collective labour agreement is introduced allowing foreign workers to do cheap labour. Whether they stay remains to be seen. Poles are "here today, gone tomorrow migrants."

Tougher justice for people traffickers

There is good news for another type of migrant worker according to Trouw. The Ministry of Justice plans to introduce harsher penalties for people trafficking and exploitation outside the sex industry. At the moment only the worst cases of exploitation, such as slavery, go to trial. In Belgium, the authorities hand down much harsher penalties, even though they adhere to the same EU directives. The difference is that Belgium takes the severity of the exploitation into consideration, whereas the Netherlands often only looks at whether an illegal immigrant has voluntarily accepted the work.

Meanwhile Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner has presented an information card on how to recognise exploitation. The card is in twelve languages and tells victims how to get help and what their rights are. For example, victims will not be deported if they go to the police.

Wrap up warm to save the planet

In case you didn't know, it's Warm Jumper Day today in the Netherlands. Warm Jumper Day is an initiative by the Netherlands Climate Association to mark the signing of the Kyoto agreement in 2005. The idea is to turn down the heating and wear a thick sweater. And the idea is catching on. This year two million people are taking part. That's 1500 schools, 200 local councils and dozens of businesses. Turning down the thermostat one degree uses seven percent less energy, and CO2 emissions drop seven percent. So what are you waiting for? Join in!

Radio Netherlands/Nicola Chadwick/Expatica

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