Dutch news in brief, Thursday 12 March 2009

12th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Labour's integration policy "lurches right"

This morning's papers are full of the school shooting in Germany but, on the domestic front, it's quite a mixed bag. De Volkskrant reports that the Labour Party's proposed document on integration has again come in for fierce criticism. This time, Groningen's mayor and party bigwig, Jacques Wallage, is accusing Labour of lurching to the right in the integration debate.

He is calling for the document, due to be presented this Saturday at the Labour Congress in Utrecht, to be withdrawn. What was seen as its too tough stance towards the immigrant community has already been toned down after 392 amendments were put forward by the rank and file. However, Wallage still believes the party is being forced to adopt the agenda of the right. "We are falling into the trap Wilders has dug for us," he complains, referring to the right-wing populist politician.

Many could not work beyond 65

With the government rumoured to be considering increasing the pensionable age to 67, an AD headline tells us "Elderly not up to later pension." A health-care expert contends that only women and people with higher levels of education should be made to work beyond 65. They apparently have the highest life expectancy and are in a position to manage two extra years at work.

He cites the annual Company Health Index (BGI) report which says a third of the over-50s feel their work performance is under par. He believes "a large group of workers are not physically up to waiting till the age of 67 for retirement. The worker with little education will be seriously ill for a large part of the extra two years. The employers will have to foot the bill," he points out.

Politicians need football fans despite tough talk

Nrc.next says a majority of MPs want to toughen up policies dealing with football hooligans. The fact that the behaviour of the fans is no longer a minor problem is summed up by the D66 democrats leader: "Football hooliganism has long lost its naughty-boy image." Despite the tough talk, nrc.next says both the clubs and politicians are in need of help from the fans.

After recent trouble, it was decided that all matches between the Amsterdam and Rotterdam teams, Ajax and Feyenoord, would be played without supporters for the next two years at least. However, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, one of the authors of this zero-tolerance measure, has agreed to meet Feyenoord fans who want the ban lifted. An expert explains the apparent U-turn by saying that politicians "want to use football, with its huge influence, to help with issues including social integration and respect."

Lifeline to struggling house sellers

The mass-circulation daily De Telegraaf has good news in these hard economic times. The housing corporations' umbrella organisation, Aedes, says its members plan to buy up houses which cannot be sold, providing a lifeline to home owners who have come unstuck because of the recession. The houses will then be rented to people who have been denied the possibility of buying their first home by the downturn.

The hope is that the move will restore confidence and help get the housing market moving again. An Aedes spokesman is proud of the initiative: "This sort of plan shows that, even in times of crisis, the corporations are doing what they set up to do: provide adequate numbers of homes for people on low budgets."

Hooligans cause local bus strike

Finally, news of more hooligan trouble, this time very local, is provided by the Protestant daily Trouw, which reports that bus drivers in Ede, a small town near Arnhem in the east of the Netherlands, staged a wildcat strike yesterday morning. They were fed up with the bad and sometimes even violent behaviour of a group of youths from the Moroccan immigrant community who take the bus to school.

The strike ended when the bus company agreed to employ security personnel on certain routes for the next fortnight. After that, "full camera security" will be provided on the buses. While the drivers were hanging around, one of the strikers was heard to comment that "the other routes are better than normal". A colleague quickly replied: "So what's normal? Only one slap per week?"

Radio Netherlands/Mike Wilcox/Expatica

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