February 13, 2010

Unemployment agency prosecutes entrepreneurs for working too hard

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 3:10 pm

UWV, the Dutch unemployment agency, is suing and sometimes prosecuting formerly unemployed people who followed UWV’s incorrect advice on how to report earnings. The victims participated in a scheme active from 2004 to 2006 in which they could start a company while still receiving benefits.

UWV’s argument revolves around the criterion for the amount of hours worked. Originally, the agency only counted billable hours, but since then it has started counting all hours that one puts into a business. UWV found discrepancies between what entrepreneurs reported to them and to the tax service. As databases of governmental agencies are linked, and the tax service gives single person companies certain breaks depending on the amount of hours they put in, it was easy for the agency to figure out the differences in hours reported.

NRC reports that people who have only recently recovered from unemployment have received fines as high as 50,000 euro, with an average of 15,000 euro. Ronald van der Krogt of union FNV says that as much as 42% of all participants in the reintegration program applied the rules incorrectly, in hindsight. “Allegedly those people are all frauds. You cannot maintain such a thing with a straight face. If that is the rule, then the rule is wrong. UWV are failing big time.”

Judges’ hands appear to be tied. A ruling from 1996 found that UWV’s most recent interpretation of the law is the correct one. (Which by the way strikes me as odd, since the reintegration program is a much more recent affair.) This means that even sitting at the office and reading a paper or picking your nose would have gotten you branded a fraud if you forgot to report those hours as work.

UWV has said it will take FNV’s complaints very seriously.

(Link: Geen Commentaar.)

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October 27, 2009

Burglar claims his privacy was violated

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 8:57 am

The Dutch Union of Criminals — I kid you not — has complained to the national ombudsman that the police of Drenthe have violated a young burglar’s privacy by posting a video of the criminal at work.

A spokesperson for the Civil Committee against Injustice cried: “This is a joke, right?!”

Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet doesn’t give the union a snowball’s chance in hell: “The police have put the film online to track down the suspect, which is legal according to Article 22 of the Dutch copyright code, the part that deals with portrait rights.”

Family of the 88-year-old real victim had installed cameras in the home after she had been robbed a number of times.

A famous former member of the Union of Criminals is former justice minister Rita Verdonk. The union aims to protect prisoners, former prisoners and suspects against unfair practices of the state.

(Photo: a still from the video.)

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October 24, 2009

Dutch banknotes partially made from fair trade cotton

Filed under: General,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 11:55 am

In 2007 the Dutch mint started with a pilot project that made it the first in Europe to print money using cotton for which the producers have not been exploited. So far, the 20 and 50 euro bills produced by De Nederlandsche Bank have contained 10 to 14% fair trade cotton.

Paper factories prefer blends of cotton, and according to the mint (PDF, Dutch) “currently there is not enough good fair trade cotton to make up 100% of a bill. But the fair trade cotton market is growing spectacularly.”

The use of fair trade cotton in Euro notes is the result of a bet that the youth chapter of Christian union CNV made in 2005 with the Minister of Finance at that time, Gerrit Zalm.

(Via the print version of De Zaak.)

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