Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 11 November 2009

11th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Unions condemn Wouter Bos
De Telegraaf published a front-page report on trade union’s condemnation of Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Wouter Bos.

In a letter to all Labour MPs, 28 leaders of the Dutch trade union federation lambasted Bos, calling him "the biggest stain on the credibility of Labour" for supporting the government’s plans to raise the pensionable age from 65 to 67.

The letter accused Labour Bos of turning its back on its own grassroots supporters and concluded "in doing so, the party has lost its right to exist".

The union leaders pointed out that in 2004, Bos who was then opposition leader walked shoulder to shoulder with union protesters demanding an end to government plans to scrap early retirement rights for Dutch workers. They said his present U-turn means he has lost all credibility with ordinary people.

"In 2004 there was no crisis and now there is. We have to ask everyone to make sacrifices and that's why a balanced raft of measures has been put forward," Bos was quoted as saying in his defence.

The unions disagreed.

"Labour has somehow totally lost sight of standing up for the social rights of the people working the assembly lines, conveyor belts and cranes," fumed one union boss.

No Dutch Pravda-like press
A professor of political theory and his partner, an actress and former director of the Amsterdam City Theatre, trailed The Hague's political performers, both press and MPs, for one year and have now published their findings on the relationship between the press and politicians.

According to de Volkskrant, the book revealed while politicians often complain about being pursued by a scrum of journalists, they really don't have so much to gripe about.

"We, as outsiders, took a fresh, possibly also a little naïve, look and found the press not really so bad," they wrote.

The professor praised "a collective process of finding out the truth, whereby the truth can come out via many channels, and news reports, in the swarm of journalists, officials and politicians, are immediately tested for accuracy".

The Theatre director added: ""I've lived in a country where the politicians got the press they want: East Germany. That leads to Pravda-like papers".

Single women trapped in poverty
Trouw covered the plight of the 128,000 young women aged between 20 to 40 who live on low wages.

A Council of Churches working group said such women, many of whom are single mothers, find it difficult to escape the cycle of poverty despite their efforts.

"There's a lot of attention focused on teenage mothers but little is known about this group," said a researcher.

The women in question consider economic independence important and 54 percent of them are the breadwinners in their families. This puts them among the growing number of people in the Netherlands who have low-paid jobs and struggle with poverty.

Unmarried motherhood, health issues, poor parents, an immigrant background and missed chances tend to be the underlying causes of their problems. Circumstances have forced many to drop out of education which could have led to better work.

The working group is pushing for wider training opportunities, including study grants for people over 30, to enable the women to escape poverty. The group added the women should not be made to take the first job that comes along.

"After all," said the researcher, "as mothers, young women are role models for their children."

Dutch hold Somali terrorist suspect
nrc.next reported a Somali asylum seeker from a centre in Dronten has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism. The 43-year-old came to the Netherlands in 2008 and is wanted by the United States which has requested his extradition.

He is accused in the US of paying for weapons for the "international jihad" and of arranging for people to travel to Somali training camps run by the militant al-Shabaab group.

de Volkskrant said the Dutch-Somali community has for some time been worried by the stories of al-Shabaab fighters which are trying to recruit young men. Parents feared their children are being recruited in the Netherlands or via the internet for the fighting in Somalia.

The paper pointed out that, at the end of July, four Dutch youths believed to attempting to enter Somalia and join al-Shabaab were picked up by Kenyan police.

Sinterklaas to spend less
AD wrote about traditionally Dutch feast of Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) which takes place on 5 December in "The Dutch stay true to the Saint".

The Sinterklaas celebrations are seen as less commercial than Christmas and the paper said people find "family traditions important" in these hard times.

Despite his origins as a Turkish bishop, the saint has, over the years, developed many Dutch characteristics. In these times of economic crisis, it appears he is putting one such characteristic, thriftiness, to good use.

AD wrote the presents he would be selecting from the Dutch stores this year would not be as expensive as in 2008.

Retailers are bracing themselves for a reduction in turnover compared to 2008.

Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica

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