Storm disrupts train and air travel, plane crashes off runway at Schiphol

Storm disrupts train and air travel, plane crashes off runway at Schiphol

The storm which swept over the Netherlands on Thursday evening led to some problems on the roads but there was no serious disruption to traffic. However, dozens of flights too and from Dutch airports were cancelled. At Schiphol airport, a Flybe flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam ploughed off the runway after its landing gear apparently broke off as the plane attempted to land in the strong winds. None of the 59 passengers on board were injured. There was widespread disruption on the railways all day, but this was largely due to preventative measures. The NS cancelled high speed services between Rotterdam and Breda and the direct intercity service between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, news agency ANP reported. The Moerdijk bridge near Rotterdam was closed to lorries in both directions for a time after a lorry and trailer blew over. The A16 was also closed several hours after a lorry and trailer got into trouble on the Van Brienenoord bridge. Several trees were blown down, closing roads. The strongest wind speeds, over 100 kpm, were recorded in IJmuiden and Hoek van Holland, the Telegraaf said. The KNMI weather bureau had issued a code orange weather warning for Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and western parts of Utrecht and Noord-Brabant. Just crash landed at #Amsterdam #schipol 💩 — Matt Lorenson (@matty_lorenzo) February 23, 2017   Fraaie beelden: Texels schip in de storm #Nieuws #Nederland — DutchNewspapers (@DutchNewspapers) February 23, 2017 Op dit moment enkele forse #windstoten in de provincie West-Vlaanderen (BE) en de westkust van #Nederland. Achterzijde van de #storm. — Noodweer Benelux (@NoodweerBe) February 23, 2017   More >

Wilders halts public appearances

Storm disrupts train and air travel, plane crashes off runway at Schiphol Geert Wilders has suspended the PVV's public election campaign activities because of the corruption scandal involving a key official in the police protection squad. The latest revelations are 'extremely unsettling', Wilders said on Twitter. Until all the facts have been uncovered, the PVV will not take part in any public campaign activities, Wilders said. The NRC reported on Wednesday that one officer in the squad, which is charged with protecting the royal family as well as Wilders, had been arrested on suspicion of leaking information to a money-laundering gang. On Thursday, the AD said Faris K had been under suspicion when he worked in Utrecht. Sources also told the paper his brother had been sacked by the police for similar offences. Meanwhile, judges in The Hague ruled on Thursday that Faris should not be remanded in custody while the investigation continues. Suspects can only be kept in jail ahead of their trial if they are suspected of serious crimes or are potential absconders. Ministers said on Wednesday there is no reason to think that Wilders' security had been compromised by K.  More >

Home births out of favour with Dutch mums

Home births out of favour with Dutch mums; just 13% stick with tradition Home births are becoming increasingly rare in the Netherlands, the AD writes. According to figures from perinatal care organisation Perined only 13% of mothers chose to have their baby at home in 2015 compared to almost one in four a decade ago. The paper calls the figures ‘striking’ because the Netherlands has always been regarded as a country where home births were a popular option. In the 1990s home births accounted for 35% of births while in the post-war years 80% of women had their baby at home, the paper writes. According to the Dutch association of gynaecologists NVOG the fall in home births is connected with an increase in the demand for pain relief which cannot be administered at home. More ‘honest’ information also contributed to home births becoming less popular. ‘Time was when having your baby at home was the norm. But now women are told that this isn’t always the best option. Half of women who choose a home birth end up in hospital,’ NVOG chair Jan van Lith told the paper. Information Midwife association KNOV chair Mieke Beentjes thinks the problem lies with women being given the wrong information. ‘In 2010 baby mortality in the Netherlands was the subject of much heated debate and at the time an unjustified link was made with home births. The effect of that is still noticeable,’ Beentjes told the paper. Beentjes hopes the number of home births will stabilise in the next few years. ‘It is time home birth is rehabilitated. Because if it can be done safely and the women in question wants it, the home is a wonderful place to have a baby.’ The NVOG which has criticised the practice in the past agrees home births should remain ‘an option’, the AD said.  More >

Campaign trail: 30% ruling under threat

Storm disrupts train and air travel, plane crashes off runway at Schiphol The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new lower house of parliament in 20 days time. Here's an update of the main campaign news on Thursday. Dutch abroad A record 77,500 Dutch nationals who either live abroad or will be away on holiday have signed up to vote on March 15. In 2012, fewer than 50,000 Dutch expats registered to vote. D66 parliamentary hopeful Eelco Keij, who campaigns for the rights of Dutch expats, says both his and other parties cannot afford to longer disregard the Dutch abroad. 'Both politically and in electoral terms, they are now a factor of importance,' said Keij, who is hoping to get elected on preference votes. Expat ruling under threat The ruling VVD is the only party with no plans to change the 30% tax ruling for expats, according to an analysis of the various party manifestos, quoted by the Financieele Dagblad. The PvdA, Socialists, Christian Democrats, GroenLinks and several minor parties want to scrap the scheme entirely, while others are proposing cuts. Last year, the national audit office said it is completely unclear what the benefits of the scheme, which costs some €800m a year, actually are. More older voters The over-65s account for 24% of the 12.9 million people eligible to vote in the March 15 general election, the national statistics office CBS says. Pensioners are also the most likely to actually vote. In 2012, 86% of the over-65s voted, compared with 71% of the under-35s. 50Plus and the CDA drew the most pensioner votes last time round. 50Plus pickle 50Plus leader Henk Krol appears to have gotten himself in a bit of a pickle over the party's pledge to reduce the pension age back to 65 - something which he had made a condition of joining a coalition government. Earlier this week, the party itself sent out a report which shows reducing the pension age cannot be done unless the state pension is reduced... something which it had always strenuously denied. Krol himself then said that reducing the state pension age would be about 'choosing the lesser of two evils'. 50Plus had been projected to win up eight to 10 seats in the 150 seat parliament. Environmental efforts A report commissioned by three environmental groups - Greenpeace, Milieudefensie and Natuur & Milieu - says transport is responsible for over 25% of Dutch carbon dioxide emissions. The three groups are calling on the next coalition to commit itself to ensuring that this does not go up even further, as it is predicted to do. Instead the next government should introduce extra taxes on flying, road pricing (tax per kilometre) and reduce the speed limit.  More >

Primark staff 'belittled and intimidated'

Primark staff ‘belittled and intimidated’, says Dutch trade union Staff at the Dutch outlets of Irish retail chain Primark frequently feel ‘intimidated when calling in sick, belittled and continually controlled by supervisors, managers and camera surveillance’, according to a survey by trade union FNV. Some 1,186 of the 4,800 Primark staff participated in the online survey and the results have prompted the union to initiate talks with Primark to improve working conditions. The majority of complaints referred to work pressure. ‘You are constantly told to work harder or do better by managers and supervisors. If you are somewhere else or talking to someone for five minutes they yell at you or threaten you with a written warning,’ one of the respondents said. Staff also said they were worried about the use of surveillance cameras. ‘They check what time you come in, how often you use the toilet, what time you’re clocking off. They check how long are you chatting to colleagues. (..) When the time comes to talk about your contract this material is used so they can pick out all the negatives and use them not to extend it.’ Primark does not yet have a works council to represent staff, something which required by law if a company has more than 50 workers. Disposable The FNV says retail staff are becoming a ‘disposable commodity’ in general. Online shopping is causing many high street shops to close so shops can pick and choose staff and temporary contracts have become the norm. ‘After two years of temporary contracts one load of personnel is exchanged for another,’ FNV official Niels Suiker told the paper. In order to survive businesses are selling ever cheaper products. One of the ways to be able to do that is cutting back on staff costs. ‘Staff is no longer seen as added value,’ Suiker said. A spokesman for Primark told the Parool that the company was shocked by the complaints and has begun the process of setting up a works council. The company has also accepted the union's invitation to talks, he said.  More >