May 1, 2017

Labour tax credit is discriminatory, says professor Teunissen

Filed under: General,Religion by Branko Collin @ 12:03 am

coins-branko-collinLast January an appeals court in Den Bosch heard a couple from Landgraaf, Limburg who claims that couples of which only one partner works still have a right to the full labour tax credit for both partners.

Currently only people who work, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, enjoy this arbeidskorting (employment credit). The maximum credit you can receive this year is 3,223 euro per person.

According to law professor Jos Teunissen, who represented the couple in court, this is discriminatory and a violation of human rights (the article doesn’t say which human rights are violated specifically — one assumes he is talking about Aticle 12 of the ECHR which guarantees the right of partners to found a family the way they see fit).

In an article for Reformatorisch Dagblad, Teunissen argues that families in which one partner works can pay as much as 5 times as much income tax as families in which both partners work.

Teunissen finds support from former junior minister for Finance Martin van Rooijen who thinks the labour tax credit is discriminatory towards pensioners. In a opinion piece for Trouw in 2015, Van Rooijen argues that discriminating against pensioners is discrimination on the basis of age, which is also plumb illegal.

The labour tax credit was introduced in 2001, when it helped to replace a generic credit. According to Teunissen in a recent article in Trouw, its goal is to stimulate labour force participation of women. It is probably not a huge surprise then that it is mostly opposed by religious parties.

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August 15, 2015

Wepod, a self-driving car with ambitions

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm

wepod-wepod_nl

The province of Gelderland will try to achieve a world first in May 2016 when it hopes to run a shuttle service on public roads using self-driven vehicles.

The vehicles are called Wepods and should drive guests of the University of Wageningen from the nearby rail station of Ede-Wageningen to the university and back. Currently however the vehicle laws of the Netherlands don’t allow self-driven cars on the road. The province hopes to convince the relevant ministries during a demonstration in October. The first Wepod, produced by Ligier in France, was delivered in June.

Rotterdam was the first city in the Netherlands allowing self-driven vehicles on its territory. The Rivium shuttle bus however does not mix with other traffic and has its own road — it operates a bit like a train without the rails.

(Link: Smart Driving; photo: Wepod.nl)

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June 8, 2015

Google, KLM and government favourites with Dutch students

Filed under: Aviation,Food & Drink,General,IT,Technology by Branko Collin @ 10:09 pm

klm-plane-steven-straitonSwedish marketing agency Universum has been polling Dutch students on who they want to work for after graduation.

A whopping 12,000 students from 32 universities and polytechnics were asked about their career preferences. Major Dutch companies such as Philips, Shell, KLM, Heineken and Endemol were named, but large American companies such as Google and Apple also made their appearance.

Both law and arts & humanities students named the national government as their preferred employer, followed by Google for the former and KLM for the latter. Business students like KLM and Google the best, engineering and physics students prefer Google, followed by Philips.

Compared to last year, TNO, Coca-Cola, IKEA and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek failed to make the top 5 in any of the categories.

(Link: ANS, photo by Steven Straiton, some rights reserved)

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May 11, 2014

Netherlands has second best beer-to-income ratio

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 4:39 pm

beer-income-reddit-adiluReddit user Adilu made this fun map of Europe which shows how many beers the legal monthly minimum wage buys you in Europe.

It turns out the well-paying beer-loving countries are the Germanic ones—no surprises there. The minimum wage of a Belgian buys you 1028 pints of beer, whereas the Dutch can purchase at least 761 pints with their monthly salary. Germany comes in third with only 521 beers.

Adilu based their pint prices on a crowd-sourced database aptly called pintprice.com, according to PolicyMic, which has a thing or two to say about purchasing power and minimum wage if you’re interested.

(Illustration: Reddit user Adilu)

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June 16, 2013

Dutch working mothers are paid less than working fathers

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:34 pm

OK, this is somewhat old news (in fact, Dutch Daily News covered it two months ago), but I still want to write about it because this follows up on earlier stories. Basically what I am trying to find out is how we, the Dutch, define Enlightenment ideals such as freedom, equality and happiness. It is clear that they are important to us, but we have been pursuing aspects of these ideals hundreds of years before other Western nations did and as a result, when looking through a global lens, we seem to do everything exactly different.

As they say, Dutch women don’t get depressed.

Here is the deal. In many ways the Dutch are some of the least gender equal people in the world. Our ratio of men and women in management roles is similar to that of the United Arab Emirates—and the Arabs at least are working to improve theirs. Furthermore, 60% of all Dutch women do not make enough money to pay their way through life—but they like it that way! In fact, men want some of that part-time action too!

So now a new study has come out that adds another piece to the puzzle. It appears that gender inequality is especially strong among working parents in the Netherlands. On the other hand the income of single men and women without children who work full-time jobs are exactly the same. I thought that was interesting. You’d expect at least some old-fashioned sexism to depress even those incomes by a couple of points. Perhaps that in the parts of our population where sexism is still rife (the Bible belt, anyone?) single, childless women with full-time jobs are rare.

If everybody is happy about this arrangement, then who I am to disagree? There is a difference between women being forced into inequality and women choosing inequality. Where things get weird is in relationships. The default Dutch marriage setting is that of community property (for now). The state sees a marriage as a contract between the state and two people. When the partners dissolve the wedding, the state typically demands that the high earner keeps supporting the low earner through alimony. What kind of incentives does an arrangement like that produce?

See also:

(Link: Statistics Netherlands. Photo by ValentinaST, some rights reserved)

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May 23, 2013

Musical instrument shop snubs its rock ‘n’ roll clients

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 3:58 pm

A musical instrument shop in Groningen, a city some call the real rock city of the Netherlands (surely a bone of contention with the people of Eindhoven), is looking for someone, male or female, to sell guitars.

They proudly tell us in their advert that their main clientele are rockers, you know, the kind of people who wear black concert shirts, have piercings and tattoos, and favour loud rock music. The shop called Tonika Music wants the ideal candidate to really look like they enjoy selling guitars, have the right qualifications, be convincing, and all the stuff you would expect from a good salesperson, but not have anything in common with the average rocker. They also mention no beards and mustaches, which potential female candidates read as not really wanting women either, but are too daft to say out loud for fear of discriminating!

Blatantly discriminating against people, which goes against Dutch law, the shop will refuse candidates with piercings, visible tattoos, ‘wild hair’ or a predilection for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. You shouldn’t be a smoker, which they consider as being ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ in a negative way and ideally you should still play in a band and understand musicians. I am sure there are people that fit this description and want to work there, but I’m more worried about the drop in sales that is soon to follow.

A keyboard player on Facebook said it best: “The dumbest sales tactic there is, is valuing your opinion more than you value your clients’ opinion. Luckily, clients are able to discriminate and take their business elsewhere.” The company, currently being trashed on Facebook, has removed their advert, which pretty much proves how stupid they’ve been. People have offered to help them with their PR and give them social media classes. Insulting your clientele has to be the dumbest crisis move ever.

(Photo of Slash, top, by Florex007, some rights reserved. Bottom: partial screenshot of the offending advert via Facebook)

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March 9, 2013

Lack of women in top management roles in the Netherlands

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 2:55 pm

In the Netherlands 11% of all senior management positions are occupied by women.

Trouw likens the Netherlands to an emirate when it comes to the number of women in top management positions. (I believe they intend that to be an insult, which would be interesting in itself.) For comparison, the United Arab Emirates also sits at 11%. Since this year corporations and government agencies in the UAE are required to have women on their boards.

Of the developed countries (for want of a better word) only Japan fares worse. It has 7% women in management roles. The most emancipated country in the world is China with 51% of all big bosses being women. In fact the top ten of countries has seven nations in it that either are or used to be communist. (The word ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ are oddly lacking from the Grant Thornton report (PDF) that Trouw bases its article on.)

Dutch women do not seem to be very interested in having careers, although they do like having the opportunity of having careers. In 2010 the United Nations voted the Netherlands the most gender equal country in the world.

(Illustration: public domain version of the symbol of feminism, via Wikimedia Commons)

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February 15, 2012

‘Some 60% of women cannot earn their own keep’

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:59 pm

You’d think a mobile euthanasia unit or a pedophile political party would be taboo in the Netherlands, but one of the biggest taboos I know of is about Dutch women not being able to earn enough money to pay their way through life. The irony is, according to a recent report by Delta Lloyd Group Foundation, 70% do believe it is important to be able to take care of themselves, but in actual fact, they don’t or don’t want to. (Some 75% of Dutch women work part-time and 40% of the population still believes that women with children should not work full-time.)

I’ve heard all kinds of arguments and personal stories from Dutch men and women in all kinds of situations (kids, no kids, divorce) that have made me understand why some women ‘cannot’ work (they lose money!) still today in 2012, and the government can be blamed for a lot of it: a too high standard of living as compared to other EU countries relies on the ‘informal’ network (moms, grandparents babysitting, neighbours caring for elderly), much like big companies used to abuse the environment and let governments pay to clean it up.

But not ‘wanting’ to work or work more in a recession — we are officially in one today — is making someone else (husband, partner, society) pay for you, when you should be helping yourself out, if not your family. It makes men and women continue to think that more than half of Dutch women are not equal to men. The entire Western world works, has families, raises children and runs businesses, so what’s the hold up?

(Link: www.telegraaf.nl)

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June 20, 2011

Gay-friendliness of companies measured by COC

Filed under: Dutch first by Branko Collin @ 1:34 pm

Last week the Dutch association for gays and lesbians, COC, launched its sfeermeter (mood metre), an online poll for determining the gay friendliness of Dutch businesses. 

Preliminary results suggest 47% of all companies are ‘top’, with only 2% ranking as ‘derailed’. COC hopes to publish its results at the same time as the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce comes out with its own ranking.
Dutch companies are currently not to be found on the international list, though Philips would like to be one of its leaders, De Pers suggests.

The paper thinks schools may score low on the metre. Teachers union AOB Roze reported the other day that teachers are getting back into the closet, afraid of nasty reactions by students, parents and even employers.

According to COC chairperson Vera Bergkamp, corny workplace jokes (“oops, guess I shouldn’t bend over to pick up this paperclip so close to you”) are what is mainly keeping gays in the office closet.

(Link: depers.nl)

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January 16, 2011

Fathers of young children prefer part-time jobs too

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 3:38 pm

Women with partners prefer part-time jobs, we wrote last year. In fact, 50% of all Dutch women already have a part-time job. And dads want in on that action. According to the New York Times (via the Deccan Herald), one in three men either work part-time, or work four nine-hour days:

For a growing group of younger professionals, the appetite for a shorter, more flexible workweek appears to be spreading, with implications for everything from gender identity to rush hour traffic.

There are part-time surgeons, part-time managers and part-time engineers. From Microsoft to the Dutch economics ministry, offices have moved into ‘flex-buildings’, where the number of work spaces are far fewer than the staff who come and go on schedules tailored around their needs.

The Dutch culture of part-time work provides an advance peek at the challenges — and potential solutions — that other nations will face as well in an era of a rapidly changing work force.

Radio Netherlands wonders if society’s demand that fathers take a more active role in the upbringing of their children will lead to new Super Dads. Surely men will have to spend more than just one Daddy Day with their children to earn that moniker? When the term was applied to women, it meant women with two full-time jobs: one at home, and one at the office. It seems that even in the gender equality debate, a man gets the same reward as a woman for less work.

(Photo by Eelke Dekker, some rights reserved)

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