Dutch news in brief, Thursday 15 January 2009

15th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

Crisis team will tackle jobs losses
De Volksrant leads with Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner warning MPs that the financial crisis will lead to more failing companies and the possibility of lost jobs on a massive scale. Up to now, the government has managed to remain upbeat about the impact of the crisis on the Netherlands.

Donner is joining employers and unions in a "crisis team" which will aim at redirecting the newly unemployed swiftly back into work. Measures should be in place by 1 March. Until then, a scheme will be extended whereby companies can put staff on fewer working hours with the shortfall in pay being made up by unemployment benefit.

The AD also leads with the story. It says unemployment office 'mobility centres' will play a leading role in turning round those who have just lost their jobs. Employers register both their surplus staff and their vacancies with the centres. This makes the process of finding another job simpler for the recently unemployed.

Donner tells the paper that employers and unions are satisfied with the plans. "It looks like the crisis has made us act very quickly and be reasonably united," he says.

Dutch should take Guantánamo inmates
The Protestant daily Trouw reports that Human Rights Watch director, Kenneth Roth, believes the Netherlands should accept inmates from the United States Guantánamo prison facility in Cuba. The government sees the resettlement of detainees as something the US has to deal with. However, Roth thinks it is a wider problem: "Guantánamo has damaged the reputation of the West and global human rights co-operation".

He goes on to say that "it would only mean taking about 50 people, whom even the Bush administration describes as posing no danger, but who cannot be repatriated", for example because they might face persecution back home. He believes, if EU countries such as the Netherlands were to take such Guantánamo inmates, it would be easier for the Obama administration to close the prison down and go on to improve US human rights policies.

New Dutch Rail boss takes 10 percent pay cut
Nrc.next runs a piece profiling the new boss of Dutch Rail (NS), Bert Meerstadt. The 47-year-old, who is described as an "efficient control freak", is starting off by giving back 10 percent of his salary. "Difficult times call for restraint," he tells us. Mind you, you might not think it such a sacrifice to remain on the nearly 450,000 euros a year he was earning as Dutch Rail's number two.

His hands-on approach is illustrated by the fact that he sometimes dons a worker's uniform and goes underground to gauge the mood among staff. However a union leader remains unimpressed: "Meerstadt parades his engine driver's qualification rather too much. Does that sort of thing make you a better boss?" he asks.

Dutch chose Calvinism by chance
NRC Handelsblad shocks us on its front page by questioning the provenance of Dutch Calvinism. "Our Calvinism was just by chance" runs the provocative headline. The great Protestant theologian, John Calvin, whom the Dutch usually thank for their plain and sober character, was born 500 years ago this year.

However, church historian, Mirjam van Veen, says the fact that more people in the Netherlands were drawn to his teachings is mostly down to political pragmatism. She says Calvin, unlike rival Protestant theologians, "recognised the right to rebel against wicked rulers". This went down well with the founders of the modern Dutch state in their armed struggle against their (Roman Catholic) Spanish colonial masters in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Feyenoord coach goes
Finally, we can get down to today's really big news: the ousting of Feyenoord trainer, Gertjan Verbeek, together with the Rotterdam football club's technical director and assistant coach. Mr Verbeek had apparently lost the confidence of the team and this was more than clear during Wednesday's training session. Nrc.next quotes him as saying: "When the players came out onto the pitch, I could see they had had enough of it".

However, De Telegraaf reports that his no-nonsense approach found favour with the Feyenoord fans. In a front-page photo, he is shown being greeted by adoring fans outside the ground after the announcement of his departure. When most trainers leave clubs they face being tarred and feathered, opines the paper, but Verbeek left yesterday with an ovation and applause.

Radio Netherlands/ Mike Wilcox/ Expatica

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