Police trainees dropping out

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Dutch police unions are sounding the alarm about dozens of police trainees who are reportedly considering resigning because of substantial wage cuts.

In 2010 the unions had agreed to wage cuts of between 18 and 22 percent for police trainees as part of a new collective labour agreement.

The measure was intended to free up funds for the training of larger numbers of police officers. However, delays in the introduction of the agreement has meant that hundreds of trainees received a full salary for the first six to ten months of their education, only to receive a very unpleasant surprise when their salaries were suddenly cut by between 18 and 22 percent.

Some of the trainees were allegedly led to believe that the cuts might not actually be implemented after all, and some regional police forces have decided to make up for the shortfall out of their own budget.

Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten has written an urgent letter to police corps commanders about the disappointing numbers of new police recruits – only 677 to date, while the 2010 collective labour agreement stipulated a total of 4,800 new recruits in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In his letter, the minister blames the disappointing figures on additional language and sports test introduced by regional police forces and demands an end to these practices. However, the police unions say all available data show there is no connection between these additional demands and the number of new recruits.

The unions also point out that the minister apparently fails to notice the alarmingly large number of drop outs at police academies. And they point out that the number of 4,800 new police officers is part and parcel of the collective labour agreement. The unions argue that If the agreed number is not met, the students whose wages were cut must be paid compensation retroactive to 2010.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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