RNW Press Review - Monday 25 February 2008

25th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review - Monday 25 February 2008 - by Jacqueline Carver

The Balkenende cabinet has now been in office for a year and to mark 365 days of Balkenende IV, de Volkskrant interviews Agnes Jongerius, chair of the FNV, the Netherlands’ largest trade union confederation. Her disappointment is reflected in the headline:"Balkenende IV is ignoring the unions".

The left-wing daily writes that the union leader is deeply disappointed by the Labour Party's contribution to government and that the cabinet only listens to employers’ organisations and has neglected important social issues such as maintaining purchasing power and capping salaries.

Ms Jongerius says, "This cabinet, including the Labour Party, has let all its good intentions slip away". She continues: "It should be about people but the prime minister only talks about fewer regulations for entrepreneurs".

* Plenty to talk about

The paper writes that the union leader is extremely angry with Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner for cancelling the traditional spring meeting between ministers, the unions and employers organisations.

Minister Donner cancelled the consultation round saying, "I don't want to participate in rituals for the sake of rituals" but Ms Jongerius says:

"I'm amazed that he can say that. Economic difficulties are approaching. I want to talk about spending power and inflation. There are 200,000 long-term unemployed people who need to find work. And where is the task force to help more women find jobs? If that's all too difficult for him, I've got an easy one: everybody is deeply concerned about increasing congestion on Dutch roads, we need to talk about tele-working as a means of solving the traffic jams".

* Kafka's chip card

AD reports that the Dutch Consumers Association and the Public Transport Users Association, known as ‘Rover’, have both called for the full nationwide introduction of the public transport chip card to be postponed.

The paper writes that both organisations have hit the alarm button, saying that the technical problems are piling up and that the introduction of the chip card, which is scheduled to replace paper tickets in a year's time, has to be postponed.

A pilot programme is already operating in Rotterdam, but according to the owner of a website that is collecting complaints about the chip card, "hundreds of complaints come in every month. Since July 2007, we've had 5000 complaints. The problems are so serious that the best solution is to throw it away and start again."

Rover says one of the biggest problems is that there aren't enough scanners for people to check out of the transport system when they have finished their journey. If you don't check out, you lose money, as the system believes you are still on a bus or a train somewhere. It's all rather Kafkaesque.

* Hallmark

"Climate neutral is more than just a pretty label" headlines Trouw above four very different examples of companies that have won the right to call their products climate neutral. A recent investigation revealed that eight out of 10 consumers want climate neutral products and two thirds of them are prepared to pay up to five percent more for such products.

The climate neutral hallmark was recently launched by the Here (in Dutch: Hier) campaign, a collaboration between environmental and charitable organisations, and so far 20 products have been granted the right to call their products climate neutral.

Trouw writes that it sounds like a relatively simple idea but in practice it is quite complicated. If a coffee company wants the hallmark emblazoned on its products then everything is checked, from the water used to grow the beans to the electricity used to power the coffee machine that puts it into your cup.

According to a spokesperson for one of the environmental organisations participating in the campaign, "we check every link in the production chain". The companies that have been awarded the hallmark vary widely and Trouw has given us a few examples.

They range from carpet and lamppost manufacturers to rose growers and the makers of biological instant soup in a cup. One of the Netherlands most popular rock bands has also been given the climate neutral hallmark as they only use green electricity to produce their CDs.

* Bobby cam

AD reports that police on bikes in the Dutch city of Maastricht will be the first force in the Netherlands to get cameras fitted to their helmets. The scheme was introduced in Great Britain some time ago and the chief of the public prosecutor's office in Maastricht decided to introduce them in South Limburg after studying the results from the UK. The material recorded by the mini cameras will be admissible in court.

They have been dubbed Bobby cams and according to a police spokesperson they work by de-escalating potential situations: "People think twice before resorting to aggression if they know they are being filmed".

The spokesperson continues, “With violent crimes, the suspect frequently tries to play down what actually happened but if they’ve been caught on camera, they can't very well get away with it".

* Canine assistant

According to the Canine Assistant Foundation, specially trained dogs can help old people live independent lives for longer and save on health care costs. AD reports that the canine assistants can carry out all sorts of tasks such as carrying the shopping, opening the curtains and taking the laundry out of the washing machine.

The foundation also trains dogs to help disabled people, the deaf and epileptics and is currently experimenting with taking dogs on stroking visits to demented people in old folks homes and to visit seriously ill children. They are also planning a trial to see if the dogs can be trained to be guardians and companions for autistic children. The foundation's director says, "A canine assistant will sit with an autistic child all day long and keep him or her calm".

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008] 

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