Wages can go up, but not in all sectors, says Dutch employers' chief


The Netherlands biggest employers organisation VNO-NCW sees potential for an average 3% pay rise next year, chairman Hans de Boer told Radio 1. ‘It is always wise to let wages rise in line with economic growth, around 3% as the [central] bank indicated,’ De Boer is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. ‘But there are always companies which are not doing as well, and they should be left out. One sector can deal with more than another. So the sectors and unions will have to talk to each other.’ The central both and prime minister Mark Rutte have both indicated that they consider the time is right for pay rises and the FNV trade union federation said last weekend it is aiming for an average 3.5% rise in the coming pay negotiation round. A wage rise will be good for domestic spending which in turn is good for the economy, De Boer said. NOS points out that in June, De Boer criticised central bank chief Klaas Knot for calling for higher wages. Instead, taxes should be cut, De Boer said.   More >

Amsterdam seeks 'testers' for new metro

Jobs Amsterdam's north-south metro line is set to begin operation next summer and the city's public transport company GVB is seeking 'testers' to try out the route, the Parool has reported. The GVB is seeking 'thousands' of volunteers to help work in the new line which will connect Amsterdam's northern suburbs with the southern railway station Zuid.Testing will start next March. The GVB has admitted the test scenarios will determine the line's maximum daily passenger numbers. Potential volunteers are being urged to keep an eye on the GVB website. 'We are looking for the most diverse test panel possible,' a spokesman told the paper.   More >

Burn-out dominates work related illness

Jobs Some 40% of people who have job-related health issues are either over-stressed or suffering from a burn-out, according to new figures from the national work-related disease register, compiled by the AMC teaching hospital in Amsterdam. In total, 6,270 reports of work-related illness were registered, most of which affected either men or the over-45s. Reports were made to the centre by 863 company doctors. People working in construction, transport and logistics, the financial services, industry and healthcare are the most vulnerable to work-related health problems. In total, 42% of complaints had a psychiatric basis. Next on the list were muscle and movement-related problems (27%) followed by hearing issues (22%). In total, 161 people per 100,000 workers were diagnosed with a work-related illness last year. In 70% of cases, people are declared 100% or partially unfit for work.   More >

External experts earn more than ministers

Jobs External experts hired by government institutions often earn substantially more than ministers, the AD reported on Thursday. The paper looked at 148 state institutions, including government departments, provincial councils, water boards and local councils, and found that outside experts are paid ‘sky high’ hourly rates. In 2016, some 20 people were paid over €179,000 or €175 per hour, which is more than minsters earn. The true number may be higher, the AD says, because not all institutions provide information on what they are paying external personnel. Teylingen local council paid €266,000 to a project manager who handled ‘complex land exploitation projects’, something the council claims it did not have the expertise to do, the AD writes. Local politicians have been indignant about the lack of transparency of some local councils. ‘It’s too ridiculous for words. Of course we should be informed when this sort of money’s involved,’ Eindhoven councillor Dré Rennenberg told the paper. His local council paid almost €228,000 to a project manager. Hiring expensive outside expertise is not against the law although there are plans to apply the Law on Top Incomes (WNT), which puts a cap on salaries for top civil servants, to everyone who works for the government. Government expenditure on outside experts has gone up by 19% in the last two years, the AD writes.  More >

No deal reached on jobs market reforms

Jobs Unions and employers have failed to reach agreement on changes to redundancy law and the pension system, dashing hopes that the new coalition government will have substantial reforms in the bag. The three big unions and employers organisation VNO-NCW had hoped to reach a deal by last Friday but have now decided there is no point in holding further talks at the moment. The unions had been hoping to use the talks to reach a common position with employers on boosting the use of permanent contracts. Han Busker, chairman of the biggest trade union federation FNV, told reporters on Monday that had not been possible to reach a deal on making it more attractive for companies to take on permanent staff or to stop potential abuses. CNV chairman Maurice Limmen said that given the good economic prospects, now had been the time to give people more job security and to stop the shift towards further use of flexible and short-term contracts. Risks Hans de Boer, chairman of the VNO-NCW, said he is extremely sorry the talks had failed. 'Employers do not dare offer staff permanent contracts because of all the risks. We want an end to that situation,' he said. The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie had asked the unions and employers to try to reach a joint position on various labour market reforms. The failure of the talks means it will be more difficult for the next government to reach a deal on reforms which have both union and employer support. Prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte said that the failure of the talks is 'extremely disappointing'.  More >