Ministers, unions and employers are to hold their long-awaited round table talks next Wednesday and redundancy rules will be on the agenda. Social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner made the surprise announcement on Tuesday.
The aim of the talks is to thrash out ways of boosting employment levels as much as possible – the cabinet’s action plan published last week includes the target of getting an extra 200,000 people into work.
The discussions, mooted since the new cabinet took office in February, have been stalled over employer wishes to include redundancy deals, and cabinet divisions over the issue.
The unions and some ministers want redundancy kept out. Employers argue that the current redundancy system, with generous compensation deals for sacked workers, distorts the labour market. As a rule of thumb, Dutch workers who lose their jobs are entitled to at least one month’s salary for every year worked. The over-40s get more.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos said they were pleased the talks could now go ahead. Employers organisation VNO-NCW said it had ‘all good faith’ that the talks would result in a more flexible jobs market.
Agnes Jongerius, head of the country’s biggest trade union federation, the FNV, said she was in a hurry to get more people into work, but said she expected the talks on redundancy law would be over quickly.
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