Tuesday 27 June 2017

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Quarter of IT firms in the Netherlands have staff shortages


One in four information technology firms in the Netherlands say their production has been down since April because they are short of staff, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. The IT sector has been most affected by the tight jobs market since the first quarter of 2015 when one out of every nine IT companies had staffing problems. Until then the mining sector (gas, oil) had the biggest need for employees. There were 12,300 job vacancies in the IT sector in the first quarter of 2017, equating to 6.3% of the national total, the CBS said. The catering sector (hotels, restaurants, cafés) report an 11.3% shortage, industry 9.9% and construction 7.6%. Above-average growth Separately, the CBS reported that the IT sector grew faster than the economy as a whole in the period between 2011 and 2015. The CBS follows OECD guidelines and defines the IT sector as including industrial firms and wholesalers dealing in information technology as well as telecoms and IT services companies. The number of IT firms increased to nearly 72,000 at the end of 2016 from 59,000 in 2011. This means 4.5% of Dutch companies are involved in IT. Most (65,500) are service providers, with 5,600 wholesalers and 800 industrial IT concerns.  More >

European court tears up bankruptcy deal

Jobs The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled in favour of four daycare workers sacked in a pre-packed bankruptcy deal. The case was brought by the FNV trade union representing the four who lost their jobs when daycare group Estro went bust in 2014 and restarted immediately as Smallsteps. In total, 1,000 of the 3,800 members of staff lost their jobs. A pre-pack deal allows companies to restructure and prepare a restart as part of the bankruptcy process but has been condemned for leaving staff and suppliers in the lurch. Unions say it is often used by companies as a way to force through a reorganisation. The court, which had been asked to rule on the situation by a lower Dutch court, said that workers involved in a pre-pack bankruptcy should keep the same rights as in a normal takeover. In the pre-pack set-up they often end up with worse pay and conditions and only a small financial settlement if made redundant. Claim The court ruling means all Estro staff are officially employed by Smallsteps because 'European law takes precedence' labour law professor Evert Verhulp told news agency ANP. 'However, to claim back pay, they should have made it clear that they wanted to continue in their jobs. That does apply to the four who went to court. The others will be able to apply for a golden handshake but it is unclear if Smallsteps will be able to pay.' Other companies which have used the pre-pack bankruptcy construction include McGregor, prawn processor Heiploeg, travel agency Neckermann, lingerie retailer Marlies Dekker and the Free Record Shop. 'This ruling means that the pre-pack is no longer an attractive way to reorganise and get rid of staff and secondary benefits cheaply,' FNV deputy chairman Kitty Jong said in a statement. 'Up to today, workers had no rights if a company went bust.'  More >

FNV won't discuss more redundancy reform

Biggest Dutch union will refuse to discuss redundancy law reform The biggest Dutch trade union federation FNV has ruled out making any more agreements with employers about relaxing Dutch rules on redundancy, the Telegraaf said on Thursday. Deputy chairman Mariette Patijn told the paper that the union is prepared to talk about encouraging employers to take on more permanent staff but that there will be no general agreement on labour market reform. 'Everything gets lumped together and we are not going to make any changes to agreements which employers have already signed,' she said. 'Changing the rules on redundancy will only lead to more flexible contracts.' The paper said 40% of the sector-wide pay and conditions agreements struck between the unions and employers this year include clauses on increasing employee security. In addition, wages have risen by an average 1.7%. Nevertheless, Patijn said many workers have not benefited from the pay rise. 'People on zero hour contracts, people on call-out contracts and temporary employees still have a far too low wage,' she said.  More >

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