Unions furious as part-time benefit stops

Trade unions have reacted furiously to a decision by social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner to stop funding part-time unemployment benefit payments.

Donner announced on Monday that the €375m set aside for the scheme has been spent following a surge in applications in recent weeks.
A ministry spokesman told the Financieele Dagblad that companies have been applying for part-time unemployment benefit on behalf of the bulk of their workforce. ‘The scheme is meant to keep skilled staff on board,’ he told the paper.
Strong demand
Employers organisation VNO-NCW said the strong demand showed there is a real need for part-time benefits. ‘It is one of the few measures the cabinet has taken which offer immediate respite,’ he said.
Among the companies which have recently applied for this government aid are Limburg-based car maker NedCar, which has 1,527 staff on shorter hours and car parts maker Polynorm where 800 workers are on part-time benefits.
By mid-June more than 40 companies had been given the green light to cut staff hours.
Donner is now looking to see if he can find the resources to extend the scheme or continue it in another form, the ministry spokesman told the FD.
Part-time unemployment benefit (ww) was brought in at the end of March. Under the scheme, companies which can prove their turnover has gone down by at least 30% because of the economic crisis can cut staff hours by up to 50%. The difference in salary is made up from ww funds.

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