Trade union FNV will not work with Freedom Party

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FNV will not join forces with Freedom Party to fight the government's plans to increase retirement age to 67.

The Hague – The commotion over Dutch trade union FNV chairperson Agnes Jongerius’ desire to join forces with populist rightwing Freedom Party to fight the cabinet’s plan to raise the legal retirement age came to an end Monday afternoon after the union ruled out a personal meeting between the two leaders.

This decision was reached after the union held emergency talks on Monday morning.

The FNV said a meeting would create the “wrong impression” that the union wanted to cooperate with the controversial political party.

The union has ruled out a personal meeting between Jongerius and Wilders. However, the FNV says it was prepared to discuss its ideas on the issue with the Freedom Party, as with any other party.

In response, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said the FNV apparently found political games more important than the retirement age. He added he would be prepared to make time for the FNV, but would only speak with Jongerius.

“Jongerius is more than welcome to talk to me about the retirement age, but it will have to be a meeting between me and her. The issue is important enough for that.”

Thousands of members of the two main trade unions in the Netherlands last Wednesday took part in protests across the country against government plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67.

The government is set to make final decisions on the legal pension age at end of October after the social and economic council, trade unions and employers organisations failed to agree on another alternative to raising the retirement age to 67 at end of September.

Jongerius under attack
On Saturday, Jongerius told de Volkskrant that she would like to talk to the Freedom Party, who also opposes to raising the pension age from 65 - 67.

“Call it opportunism, but every bit of support you can get counts,” she had said.

The comments caused much protests over the weekend as many union members felt uncomfortable with the idea of cooperation between the anti-Islamic party and the trade union.

Monday’s papers report that members and supporters criticised Jongerius for her comments.

The AD wrote: “Jongerius under heavy fire”, while Trouw said: “FNV supporters call Jongerius to account” and De Telegraaf reported “Members want Jongerius to go”.

One of the FNV unions, the civil servants’ union Abvakabo, said the FNV should not talk to “a racist organisation like the PVV … Solidarity and equality are deeply engrained values which the PVV absolutely does not endorse”

Many Abvakabo members said they would cancel their membership if Jongerius goes ahead with her plans.

Other trade union organisations were quick to distance themselves from the FNV chairperson’s words.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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