Minister urges pay freeze to beat crisis

The unions should agree not to campaign for a pay rise this year in order to ‘share the pain’ of the economic crisis, social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner said on Tuesday.

Last week, Donner called for wage moderation. ‘If we want to emerge from this stronger we have to do more,’ said Donner. ‘It is not just a question of wages. We have broaden our view. Spending power, social security benefits, we are all going to have a zero increase in our income, like pensioners are facing.’
On Friday ministers agreed to give pension funds more time to increase their buffers in return for an end to index-linking.
But Wilma Wind, spokeswoman for the FNV trade union federation, said the minister’s comments were misplaced. ‘We need a cabinet and minsiter who work on solutions… this is not positive for the negotiations,’ Wind said.
Unions, employers and the minister are currently in talks on reaching a broad social accord to try to head off mass redundancies.
Donner also said on Tuesday that he is to extend the government’s short time working scheme (wtv), for a few weeks, until a deal is reached with the unions. The scheme, which allows employers to cut staff hours or lay workers off temporarily for up to 24 weeks without it affecting their salaries, is due to end on March 1.

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