Union fears minority government could harm polder model

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A Dutch union has warned that a minority government made up of the conservative VVD and Christian Democrats supported by the Freedom Party will be difficult to negotiate with.

Every year the Dutch government, employers and unions negotiate agreements to avoid industrial disputes, when new legislation is introduced. This practise is generally referred to as the ‘polder model’. The employers and unions are collectively known as the social partners.

“The construction in which the Freedom Party supports a minority cabinet makes it completely unclear whether we have a reliable negotiating partner,” chairman of a civil servants union, CNV Publieke Zaak, Eric de Macker told daily newspaper Trouw.

Social agreements The problem is whether social agreements made with a minister from a minority cabinet are tenable. It is uncertain whether such agreements will receive the support of a majority of the house and MPs could thwart any agreement made. If this happens, “Our platform disappears and the polder model doesn’t work,” says Mr Macker.

In the paper, he says normally the social partners are consulted informally about policy during the formation talks, but this time they have not been approached. The danger is that mass redundancies may lead to resistance against cuts and radicalisation among civil servants. Ultimately this could lead to strike action.

Stability Chairman of the CNV federation of unions, Jaap Smit, says in he would rather see the far-right Freedom Party taking part in government. He fears the minority government will be fettered by Geert Wilders, whose proposals sometimes go against constitutional rights. Mr Smit also thinks the Christian Democrats will think twice before attacking the Freedom Party on issues such as the ‘headscarf tax’ because that could endanger the party’s support of the government. “Stability does not seem to me to be a word that suits this combination,” says Mr Smit.

In his blog, the CNV chairman fears drastic cuts in social security, which will mainly affect the weaker parts of society, while policies like the kilometre charge and changes to mortgage relief are not likely to be introduced. A minority government means the cuts will have to be made without broad support.




© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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