Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 17 November 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Dutch Euro MP still furious with Nicaragua
The row between conservative Euro MP Hans van Baalen and the Nicaraguan government continues in the De Telegraaf.
The paper reported "Van Baalen is furious" and that "after being physically and verbally threatened, accused of plotting a coup, called a Dutch pirate, and being thrown out of Nicaragua, Euro MP Hans van Baalen was finally able to set foot on safe European soil on Monday".
Last week MEP van Baalen was in Managua to chair a meeting of the International Liberals, which represents more than 100 Liberal parties across the globe, and met with representatives of Nicaragua's liberal opposition parties.
He accused left-wing president Daniel Ortega of manipulating the constitution in order to run for a second consecutive term and persuaded the divided opposition to unite and field a joint candidate to run against Ortega in the 2011 presidential election.
The Protestant paper reported that van Baalen was accused of interfering in the internal politics of a sovereign nation and ordered to leave the country. Things well and truly heated up after a deputy minister said the Netherlands was "a shitty little country". However, calm appeared to return after Managua apologised to The Hague.
But things have heated up again; according to Trouw, as President Ortega accused van Baalen of sounding out the army leadership as to the possibility of staging a coup d'état.
The Euro MP dismissed the accusations as "ridiculous", adding "Ortega is just trying to destroy the Liberal opposition's credibility". De Telegraaf quoted him as saying: “Absolute nonsense, just more of the usual nonsense that Ortega spouts”.
FNV to ask for wage increase
AD reported the FNV trade union, the Netherlands' largest, will enter the 2010 round of Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) negotiations demanding a wage increase of 1.25 percent.
The paper noted somewhat laconically that the FNV’s wage demands will not be welcomed enthusiastically by organisations representing employers (VNO-NCW) or the government.
Trouw wrote Social Affairs Minister Pete Hein Donner called for a wage freeze earlier this year and the FNV’s demand will be "a disappointment for the government".
According to de Volkskrant, the VNO-NCW said the FNV’s demand was irresponsible and the union had "conveniently forgotten about the worldwide economic crisis".
The cost of living has risen quite dramatically over the last year or two, and ordinary people are bearing the brunt of the extraordinary avarice of bankers.
Healthcare costs skyrocket
The public health care system underwent a major reorganisation in 2006; the government at the time promised that premiums would not rise astronomically and the new system would give people more choice.
However, Trouw reported an independent investigation showed costs have risen quite dramatically – the premium for a basic health care policy has risen by 28 percent since the new system was introduced.
The investigation also revealed that basic health care policies will rise by an average of EUR 41 in 2010. However, consumers actually pay more as the figures do not take into account the abolition of the no-claim bonus and the introduction of a mandatory 200-euro own risk provision. The 1.25 percent wage increase demanded by the unions will just about cover the increase in health care costs.
Police still required to fulfil ticket quota
de Volkskrant reported Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst infuriated opposition members in the lower house on Monday when she informed MPs that the policy of requiring police officers to write a certain number of tickets per month will be maintained.
According to the minister, "handing out tickets increases officers' authority" and the policy "is popular as people approve wholeheartedly when police officers ticket motorists for running red lights or tailgating".
Opposition MPs sneered that police officers and are now nothing more than "glorified tax collectors". A VVD MP Laetitia Griffith accused the minister of seeing ordinary citizens as "an easy source of ready cash for the government".
Trouw wrote the minister also called for a change in police culture that would allow police to "more readily resort to violence if necessary".
Minister ter Horst said for years, the police have been told to talk first and only use violence as a last resort," and although she does not want to see that completely turned around, "police should not feel completely restricted, especially when it comes to preserving their own lives".
Campaign for fair trade chocolate letters
Giving a chocolate letter, which corresponds to the first letter of one's name, as a present is a long-standing tradition marking St Nicolas' day on 5 December in the Netherlands.
de Volkskrant reported how children with names beginning with M or W are the lucky ones as those letters contain considerably more chocolate than the letters names beginning with an I or a J. However, arguments over the size of the letter no longer dominate conflicts on St Nicolas day. Instead, the argument has now shifted from size to content.
The paper wrote Oxfam Novib has started a campaign calling on manufacturers to use cocoa produced by small-scale sustainable farmers.
The aid organisation said 85 percent of all the chocolate letters available in the Netherlands are bad as they contain cocoa produced by huge multinationals that do not pay the farmers a decent wage.
The "dump the 19 million bad chocolate letters" campaign aims to draw attention to the "hundreds of thousands of farmers in developing countries who are the victims of unfair practices".
The organisation said just 3.5 million of the 23 million chocolate letters sold annually in the Netherlands contain fair trade cocoa and has called for all chocolate letters to be fair trade by 2010.
Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica