Shipping protest ‘wins industry subsidies’
6 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — About 4,000 ship construction workers protested in The Hague on Tuesday and won promises of government subsidies from Economic Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst to help maintain the industry’s competitiveness.
An official with Christian trade union federation CNV, Henk Brees, said the subsidies were agreed to earlier this week, but the pending demonstration played a definite role.
Brees said the minister admitted two weeks ago that the industry was “dying”, but Brinkhorst has since agreed to a subsidy of 6 percent of the price of a construction order. The subsidy must be on a par with similar subsidies provided by other European nations to their ship building industries.
The shipping industry is faced with increasing competition and countries which mainly build tankers and container ships are changing tack as they see the Koreans swallow the market up.
These countries are now opting to build dredging ships or tugboats, an area where the Netherlands delivers good quality, but expensive products. “Orders are therefore disappearing to other nations,” Brees said.
About 4,000 ship construction workers gathered at the Malieveld in The Hague at about 11am to demand industry subsidies.
They also demanded wharves be allowed to borrow money from banks at cheaper rates and that the Cabinet agree to stimulate industry innovation.
Despite the fact that Brinkhorst has agreed to the subsidy, it is another question whether Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm will rubber-stamp the funding. A decision is expected in two to three weeks.
Despite stringent government economising, Brees claims the Christian Democrat CDA party, the Liberal VVD, Labour PvdA, the populist LPF and the ChristenUnie are in favour of industry subsidies.
[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news