A scheme allowing companies to temporarily lay off staff or cut their hours for up to 24 weeks without workers losing pay will run for two more months, social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner announced on Wednesday.
His decision means companies have until March 1 to apply to take part in the scheme.
Unions and employers had urged the minister to extend the deadline because many firms are only now being hit by the economic downturn.
To qualify for the scheme, companies must prove their turnover is down 30% over a two-month period because of the credit crisis.
But Donner also stressed that businesses have to do more to restructure their operations. ‘Shorter working hours are not an adequate long-term answer,’ the NRC reported him as saying.
‘We must not maintain jobs if there is no more work… Mass redundancies are always hard, but we can prevent them from leading to mass unemployment.’
The Volkskrant says that the minister is planning to form a special crisis team with representatives from the unions and employers to help prevent mass redundancies by focusing on training and direct placements.
The FNV trade union federation is keen to see the relaunch of job pools, the paper says. Job pools would be set up by companies with surplus workers who can be hired by other companies. If there is no work, job pool staff are paid from unemployment benefit funds.
Meanwhile the FNV and environment organisation Natuur en Milieu have developed a plan to set up a green jobs pool.
With an investment of €3m, 100,000 jobs could be created to carry out tasks such as insulating homes, the paper quotes FNV leader Agnes Jongerius as saying.
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