June 23, 2016

Amsterdam abolishes discriminatory youth minimum wage

Filed under: Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 3:23 pm

Amsterdam is the first Dutch city to finally put an end to the discriminatory practice of paying employees between the ages of 18 and 23 only 45% of the adult minimum wage.

The Netherlands is one of the few European countries where this practice was commonplace, something that is illegal in many Western countries. The city will start by adjusting the salaries of younger people who work for the city. Although the city of Zwolle, Overijssel started doing this before Amsterdam, Amsterdam is making more serious adjustments according to the youth workers’ union who has been pushing hard for change.

In April of this year the Dutch government decided to lower the youth minimum wage from 23 to 21, but yeah, that’s still discrimination. I have yet to hear a good argument besides exploiting young people for this wage discrepancy.

(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of the VOC HQ (East India Company) by Josh, distributed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

Tags: , , , ,

August 3, 2014

Unions object to amateur bus drivers

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:29 pm

buurtbus-syntus-michael-1988Currently more than ten percent of the bus drivers in the Netherlands work without pay, Volkskrant reports.

Volunteer drivers are used on unprofitable routes, or so the companies that employ them claim. On the other hand Labour union FNV Bondgenoten claims that the amateur drivers are putting paid bus drivers out of work.

Egmond Online writes that line 408 from Egmond-Binnen to Egmond aan de Zee currently employs over 40 volunteers. Els Geugies, chairwoman of Vereniging Dorpsbelangen Egmond-Binnen (Village Association Egmond-Binnen), says that volunteers don’t just drive: “We also need to make schedules, fill up on fuel and clean the bus inside and out.”

Last month the city of Rijsen started using people who are on welfare as cab drivers. Hermien ten Bolscher of cab company Taxi Gerritsen told RTV Oost there weren’t happy with the cheap competition: “As it happens we were also unemployed when we started [four years ago]. We have had to make some big investments in cars, licenses and other things. It is wrong that we now have to compete with cab companies that get subsidized.”

It’s not clear from the article whether the unemployed cab drivers are forced to work for free. None of the articles mention if the amateur drivers have received training.

See also:

(Photo by Michael 1988, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

June 13, 2011

State unemployment insurer mistakenly persecuted customers

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:44 am

A while back we reported about a mistake the Dutch unemployement insurer UWV made in which 3,000 formerly unemployed entrepreneurs had—often accidentally—committed fraud during a UWV led worker reintegration program after having been given some incorrect advice. It was the UWV who then made sure these misinformed people were fined, and in some cases, criminally prosecuted.

After a scorching indictment by the Dutch ombudsman in 2010, a parliamentary committee led by Ruud Vreeman collected 2,000 complaints, approximately half of which were by people who had been misled by UWV and who should get their money back. UWV will pay out about 5.2 million euro to its victims, Volkskrant reports.

UWV has instated its own appeal committee for the remaining thousand complainants led by law professor Irene Asscher-Vonk, who has already concluded that “a significant number” of the appellants have also been unjustly accused. Apparently the Vreeman committee never looked at all the complaints in detail, something Asscher-Vonk wants to rectify:

Asscher-Vonk does not just want to do justice to the unjustly suspected entrepreneurs, she also thinks it is important that UWV not be portrayed as a bunch of crooks. It must answer to suspicions of benefits misuse. “Mistakes have been made, but mistakes are made everywhere. UWV is an important and indispensable institution, and the reparation of trust is important.”

Interestingly, UWV pays on average 5,000 euro back per victim, but originally fined them 15,000 euro on average. That means either UWV will not pay back everything, or the real fraud in that pool of 3,000 entrepreneurs has been taking the insurer for much more than fifteen grand a pop.

(Photo of Atelier van Lieshout’s “Food Cart” by me—part of the Art Zuid set)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.)

Tags: , , , , , ,

August 23, 2009

Unemployed youth to help other unemployed youth find job

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:16 am

UWV, the Dutch organisation responsible for unemployment benefits, is going to train 200 unemployed and inexperienced young people to become junior job counsellors, Z24 reports (Dutch).

The first batch of 100 university or polytechnic schooled young people will start training right away, so that they can get started on their new job on October 1. The economic crisis is particularly brutal on this segment of the population who often deal with this by staying in school longer (Dutch) in the hopes of waiting out the crisis. Youths can get a student loan for up to 7 years.

Tags: , , , , , ,

April 26, 2009

Five ways to lose your employees during a crisis

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:46 am

If you want to fire staff you have to go through the courts, a costly process, and a judge may deny your request altogether. Z24 has compiled a list of 5 ways (Dutch) that modern, mid-sized to large companies use to ditch their workers.

The idea behind the list is that in this time of crisis, the courts will at least grant you a permit for some dismissals. The courts will have to follow certain methods to compile this list, which basically comes down to maintaining a certain diversity of age within all levels of the company. Employers that want to keep only the eager-beaver young workers, or the workers that contribute the most, may feel compelled to game the system in order to trim the fat.

Z24’s list:

  1. Promote favourite employees to other functions
  2. Create a new department, discontinue the old, and let the workers of the latter apply for jobs in the former
  3. Have a few, quick evaluation rounds; trump up charges of bad functioning in the first, conclude that the worker isn’t willing to improve in the second
  4. Give certain employees only boring tasks, and hope they’ll leave by themselves
  5. Promote creeps to become the bosses of the ones you want to get rid of; again hope the latter will leave by themselves

Another method that used to be popular was to rely on the lack of familiarity most employees have with the law by simply stating to an employee that they were fired. This happened to my mother once in the 1960s: her boss told her she was fired, and that she had to pack her stuff and leave. When it came to a court case, the boss denied ever having said anything of that nature, and since there were no witnesses of the dismissal, but plenty to the ensuing ‘dereliction of duty,’ the court could do little else than to allow the company to fire my mother.

I don’t know why this latter method isn’t more popular, although I’d venture to guess it’s because it might backfire so easily. You can fool the first employee, but not the next few hundred, which makes it a method larger companies would be unlikely to use.

Tags: , , , ,

December 13, 2008

Postman fired over warning customers about fraudulent bills

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:31 pm

When a postman from Rotterdam warned his customers about fake Chamber of Commerce bills following a recent spate of them, he got fired by his employer Sandd, according to Dutchnews. Having read about the fraudulent bills in the paper, he recognized them on his daily route:

“I told my delivery manager, but the reply I got was that we only deliver the mail, and that we cannot and may not check the contents,” postman Rick Timmer (51) told Parool (Dutch). Timmer then went on to warn the companies along his route of his own initiative, sometimes even putting warning stickers on letters to people he could not reach in person.

Sandd thinks Timmer has violated the secrecy of correspondence, a legal right that’s enshrined in the constitution and that holds that letters may not be read while being delivered. In this light the support that Timmer got is a bit shocking: Sandd competitor TNT even offered him a new job, according to Telegraaf. Does this mean that TNT does read our letters? Because that is in my opinion the message they are now sending. Telegraaf mentions that Timmer did not open the letters.

Photo by Hans Vink, some rights reserved.

Tags: , , , , ,

November 8, 2008

Dutch prefer to work around 27 hours per week

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 6:07 pm

OK, so I am going to throw these numbers at you without any attempt to explain why they are what they are, and without stating whether I think these reflect well or not on Dutch society, as my experience is that people tend to interpret such statistics along political lines anyway, regardless of my interpretations. TNO released a study last week that shows the Dutch would prefer to work somewhere between 25 and 28 hours per week. Earlier studies (Dutch) showed that the Dutch already put in the least amount of hours per week across Europe: 33 hours. A relatively large percentage of the Dutch work part-time (40%), and the Dutch also belong to the Europeans with the most irregular hours.

The Netherlands is also the country where most of the wages are fixed: paying somebody according to how productive they are hardly occurs here. The preferred increase of working hours is a function of the amount of hours a person already works (duh!). Interesting to see in TNO’s graph though is that only the more or less unemployed would like to work more, and only those that put in more than 40 hours a week would like to work less. People that work from anywhere between 8 and 40 hours a week seem pretty OK about the time they put in.

The study called Nationale EnquĂȘte Arbeidsomstandigheden (National Poll Working Conditions) is a collaboration between TNO and Statistics Netherlands, is repeated each year and involves questioning 25,000 members of the Dutch work force. The European working conditions study over 2007 referred to by Intermediair is fascinating reading.

Via print daily Metro. Photo by Shrekton, some rights reserved.

Tags: , , ,