Junior minister cleared of wrongdoing

Junior finance minister Jan Kees de Jager has been largely cleared of wrongdoing by a committee set up to investigate working conditions at the company he ran before becoming minister.

The committee, instigated by De Jager himself, said the problems at software firm IMS eCompany were not serious and not De Jager’s fault. The investigation was run by Amandus Lundqvist, chairman of the management board at Eindhoven University of Technology.
It was set up after newspapers claimed workers at IMS were discouraged from setting up a works council and that their contracts included a clause saying they would be sacked if they developed repetitive stress injury (RSI). The report found that while many of the claims were justified, they were not serious and staff had not taken legal action against them.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende welcomed the report’s findings, saying they proved that De Jager, a member of Balkenende’s Christian Democratic party (CDA), was a ‘entrepreneur of integrity’.
MPs agreed that the report had no consequences for De Jager’s functioning as minister because mistakes at the company were not serious. ‘However, it was not a prize-winning performance,’ said Socialist Party MP Ewout Irrgang.
In particular, problems with pension premiums and illegal clauses in job contracts were to be regretted, Irrgang said.
Fellow Christian Democrat Jules Kortenhorst said the report proved De Jager had done nothing wrong. ‘This affair can now be closed,’ he said. ‘The minister has enough work to do.’

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