Dutch news in brief, Monday 6 April 2009

6th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Day of protest against violence
AD reports on a protest against increasing violence against public service workers on Monday.

“Today the sirens will wail at five to twelve and the trains will come to a standstill. The occasion is a national day of action to protest attacks against public workers.”

Marco van Moort, spokesman for the trade union FNV Bondgenoten, said the actions are “primarily an empty gesture” as the government has no money and is not able to offer any solutions about the problem.

Acts of violence against train and bus conductors and police officers are becoming increasingly common.

Two weeks ago, there was an outcry when two train conductors were assaulted by a group of six men in the town of Almere. On Sunday, another man caught without a ticket in Almere was arrested for insulting and attacking train conductors. He attempted to push one of them under an approaching train.

The free newspaper Spits reports that a parliamentary majority supports legislation which would require aggressive passengers to pay damages to drivers and conductors.

The conservative VVD and the right-wing Freedom Party proposed that aggressive passengers should be sent to prison.

This weekend the leader of the conservative VVD party Mark Rutte proposed that bus drivers be equipped with pepper spray.

Responding to the VVD party’s offered proposal, the trade union official said: “You shouldn’t fight violence with violence. That doesn’t solve the problems.”

A train conductor interviewed by AD said violence has gotten out of hand”: “Usually it goes wrong when people don’t have a ticket or cannot find it… Passengers begin to argue, swear, spit on your clothes – it’s all very humiliating…I’ve been doing this work for around thirty years. Previously a conductor was treated as a gentleman. Now they look at you like thin air.”

Drivers with attitude results in violent passengers
The quality free newspaper De Pers interviews bus drivers in Amsterdam, who said the commotion is no more than a “hype”.

One driver said: “I’ve been driving a bus for six years and I have never had any trouble.” A 64-year-old driver who is retiring soon said the only problem he ever had was when a small boy spat at him. Another driver who had no trouble in 18 years said: “It has a lot to do with your attitude… it’s always the same types of people who get hit.”

A Surinamese driver has his own theory. “To tell the truth, the native Dutch drivers are always the ones (who get into trouble). Why? Because they start to tell people how they should act.”

Recession hits Amsterdam's red light district
In “Fewer clients, higher prices for the rooms and more clients who bargain to pay less”, AD reports prostitutes of Amsterdam’s Red Light District are feeling the brunt of the economic crisis

“Compared to seven months ago it is really bad,” said Che from Mexico. “Clients say they don’t have any money. They want to do it for EUR 30 or EUR 35. Then you just do it.”

The prostitutes said that on some days they only earn enough to pay for the room. In January, the price was raised from EUR 50 to EUR 75. A federation which represents 250 of the 400 escort agencies in the Netherlands says the situation is “drastic”.

Metje Blaak said she tries to comfort her girls by telling them the same thing happened during the oil crisis in the 1970s.

Blaak blames the decline in clients and income on the media “who squeal and bleat” and that it scares people. People who keep hearing how bad the economy is doing are keeping a tighter hand on their wallets, but “money is meant to roll”.

Fathers on high heels
De Telegraaf has a picture on its front page of a man in high heels falling on his butt.

Amsterdam’s Rai exhibition centre is holding its annual motor show and visiting fathers were given the chance of winning a “nice gift” for their child by taking part in a race on high heels for men.

After the hilarious high heel race, most men expressed great respect for women who walk around the whole day on high heels.

One participant said: “I already had great respect for women because they must bear children. But walking on high heels is really degrading.”

Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica

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