Labour leader and caretaker social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher says he won’t sign off on the government’s 2018 spending plans unless there is more money for teachers’ salaries.
The outgoing cabinet is beginning to put together a holding budget for 2018 while talks on forming a new government continue. Traditionally such a budget does not include new policy, particularly if it costs money.
However, Asscher told broadcaster NOS that he will not sign the budget papers unless caretaker ministers agree to take action on primary school teacher pay. The budget for 2018 will be presented on the third Tuesday in September.
VVD parliamentary party leader Halbe Zijlstra accused Asscher of acting inappropriately, given parliamentary traditions. In addition, it is ‘not okay’ to attempt to impose his will on all the VVD ministers still in office, Zijlstra said.
Asscher refused to take the Labour party into a new round of coalition talks because of the party’s huge losses in the March 15 vote.
Prime minister Mark Rutte also said he is ‘disappointed’ in Asscher’s decision. ‘We worked together extremely well for four years and this disappoints me somewhat,’ Rutte said.
The VVD, Christian Democrats, D66 and ChristenUnie are starting serious negotiations on forming a new cabinet on Wednesday and many commentators expect extra spending on education to be a key policy issue.
Caretaker education minister Jet Bussemaker, who represents the Labour party, has said there is no more money for teachers pay because her ministry has overspent its budget.
Primary school teachers went on strike for an hour on Tuesday and more action is planned.
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