Union storms out of talks over Dutch budget cuts

26th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM —Renewed talks aimed at resolving the impasse between the Dutch Cabinet, employers and unions over budget cuts were extremely short lived on Tuesday as trade union confederation FNV angrily ended discussions.

26 October 2004

AMSTERDAM —Renewed talks aimed at resolving the impasse between the Dutch Cabinet, employers and unions over budget cuts were extremely short lived on Tuesday as trade union confederation FNV angrily ended discussions.

FNV deputy chief Agnes Jongerius stormed out of the meeting and said she had been called to The Hague "for nothing". She said she could have devoted her time to something better, such as preparing a strike in the metal sector on Wednesday.

Jongerius said no serious discussions were entered into and she accused the cabinet of remaining obstinate. She said the government did not appear prepared on Tuesday to discuss anything.

But the FNV said it would not close the door on talks completely. Jongerius said business could only be conducted at the negotiating table, but lamented that the time was not right for that just yet, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

The abrupt end to the talks came after the Cabinet, employers and unions resumed contact on Tuesday in a bid to end the deadlock over the government's planned social security cuts. 

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus and Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm first met on Monday night with the bosses of employer associations and union confederations.

Tuesday's meeting was designed to expand on the talks held on Monday night and the social affairs chairman of employers association VNO-NCW, Jan Willem van den Braak, had said he was always open to such discussions, news agency ANP reported.

Minister Zalm had also confirmed that talks on "all levels" had been resumed, but said no conclusion had been reached, Radio 1 reported.

It had earlier been reported on Tuesday that the cabinet was locked in secret talks with unions to determine whether an accord could be reached on cuts to early retirement schemes. If it appeared that a deal might be reached, formal talks would be initiated, RTL News had reported.

The resumption of negotiations came after Defence State Secretary Cees van der Knaap held exploratory talks with employers and unions in recent weeks to find common ground.

Trade union confederations FNV, CNV and MHP have waged a high profile campaign against the government's budget cuts in recent weeks. The unions are particularly opposed to cuts to social security, the fiscally attractive VUT and pre-pension early retirement schemes and healthcare. 

Public transport strikes were recently held in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, while up to 300,000 people demonstrated against the budget cuts in Amsterdam on 2 October. Trade union FNV Bondgenoten blockaded the Social Affairs Ministry last week.

The cabinet unveiled in September EUR 2.5 billion in budget cuts. It is also actively moving to make people work longer or stimulate them to return to work amid economising plans aimed at restoring long term economic strength based on short term financial pain.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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