RNW Press Review, Monday 7 July 2008

7th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

7 July 2008

Patient freeze comes earlier this year
Trouw leads with the headline ‘Patient freeze in home care sparks unrest'. This weekend, in the latest in a series of crises in the sector, two home care providers announced that they will not accept new patients. The providers Thuiszorg Groningen and Sensire say they have run out of money because their budget for this year has been cut by five percent while the number of patients has increased.

AD writes that "announcing a patient freeze is a yearly ritual, but this one has come earlier than usual".

De Volkskrant reports that the opposition Socialists and Green Left parties have called on Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker to come up with a plan to deal with the crisis; otherwise they will recall parliament from its summer recess.

Sunday's De Telegraaf writes that the recently released annual report of a home care provider reveals that it paid an extra EUR 1.4 million to three departing managers.

Just last week, a nearly bankrupt home care provider in Amsterdam gave its departing manager a golden handshake worth EUR 650,000.

Open borders for Polish workers cause political tension
De Volkskrant reports that Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner "has something to think about during the summer recess".

In a series of motions, MPs from the governing coalition voiced their concern about problems with Polish workers. They also want to know what the minister will do to prevent similar problems with Romanians and Bulgarians.

De Volkskrant writes "The drift of parliament's message is clear: if Donner doesn't take steps parliament will vote against the opening of borders to Bulgarians and Romanians on 1 January and he and the cabinet will be faced with political problems."

The Christian Democrats are openly saying they have "great reservations" about their own minister when it comes to his handling of problems relating to Polish workers.

Labour mayors in the big cities are warning that the large number of Poles is aggravating the situation in problem neighbourhoods.

They also cite reports that thousands of foreign workers are duping the tax authorities:

"Moreover there are more and more signals that an increasing number of Poles are applying for welfare benefits."

The conservative VVD party, which was at first the warmest champion of opening the border to foreign labour, is now worried about competition from the right-wing Freedom Party "which would prefer to send all Poles back home".

No toilets on the trains? Use a plastic bag
"Dutch Railway to remove toilets from trains" is a headline on the front page of today's De Telegraaf.

The paper writes that the railway company wants to drastically curtail the number of toilets on trains. A public transport users' lobby group is demanding that Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings force the railway to provide toilets.

The paper reports that the railway has already removed most toilets from the double-decker trains and sometimes there is only one. "And that WC is often out of order."

To add to the misery, the railway does not plan to provide toilets at some of the new stations it is building.

De Telegraaf says the railway has confirmed that it is getting rid of toilets because "Each toilet provides space for four seats."

The paper interviewed Hennie van de Laan who has bladder problems and is "furious". She said when she ran into problems she was told that next time she should take a plastic bag with her.

In an editorial entitled "Need to go" De Telegraaf writes "The removal of toilets is a downright disaster for the elderly, babies and others with a weak bladder.

The railway's reaction to complaints is hardly customer friendly. The suggestion to take along a plastic bag is daft. This might help a baby, but what grown up person would use a plastic bag in a crowded train?"

Verdonk stars as Prime Minister
The United States may not yet have a woman president, but the Netherlands has a female prime minister who is none other than Rita Verdonk, founder of the right-wing political party Proud of the Netherlands. In a film that is.

The front page of today's De Telegraaf shows a joyous Rita Verdonk surrounded by a number of Zwarte Piets (Black Petes).

Verdonk is playing the role of prime minister in a film called ‘Saint Nicholas and the Mystery of the Large Book', which will be released at the beginning of October.

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is celebrated on the eve of 5 December. Some weeks before, Saint Nicholas arrives by steamboat from Spain with his helper Zwarte Piet.

Zwarte Piet, whose face is painted black, is a mischievous character who punishes bad children.

In recent years the Saint Nicholas tradition has been criticised in some quarters because having Zwarte Piet as helper is allegedly racist and politically incorrect.

When Verdonk founded Proud of the Netherlands, she exclaimed. "They're even trying to take our Saint Nicholas away from us!"

This explains why the movie’s producers chose her as prime minister. De Telegraaf reveals the film's plot: "Saint Nicholas has an accident while trying out for his ‘roof driving licence' and ends up in hospital. This is the beginning of a series of adventures..."

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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