Minister calls for longer hours, less holiday

There must be a return to a 40-hour working week and holiday entitlements should be cut, says economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven in an interview with Friday’s NRC Handelsblad.

The minister wants both issues to be put high on the agenda of the traditional spring discussions between employers, trade unions and the cabinet which are due to start next Wednesday, the paper says.
Higher pay for working longer hours is ‘the best remedy’ for maintaining spending power and for tackling the shortage of job applicants, the minister tells the paper.
Van der Hoeven has calculated that a full-time worker is entitled to 22 weeks paid leave a year – if he makes use of all the possibilities for days off.
The minister warns against higher salaries without increased productivity saying this will accelerate inflation.
But the unions are using the higher fuel and food prices to demand bigger pay rises, says the paper. Agnes Jongerius, chairwoman of the country’s biggest union federation, FNV, has threatened to call for pay rises of over 3.5% unless the cabinet backs down on its plan to up VAT stax from 19% to 20% next year.
She wants buying power to rise by at least 1% in 2008. ‘The economy is running, companies’ tax and premiums have gone down, but people’s spending power is going down. We think it’s clear what needs to be done,’ she told the NRC.

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