Ministers are frustrating the involvement of unions and employers in discussions about reform, Ton Heerts, leader of the FNV union federation says in Monday’s Volkskrant.
Ministers are pressing ahead with reforming the housing market and state pension system without ensuring there is sufficient support for the policies, he says.
‘We are supposed to be involved in looking at alternatives but ministers like (junior social affairs minister Jette) Klijnsma and (housing minister Stef) Blok are charging on regardless,’ Heerts told the paper.
Two issues are of particular concern, Heerts said. ‘Social security is being increasingly used to top up the treasury,’ he said, pointing out that employer contributions have gone up by €1.3bn while workers’ rights have been ‘halved’.
In addition, central government is transferring more and more tasks to local authorities without increasing their funding proportionately, he said.
The Netherlands has a tradition of involving union and employer leaders in talks on major policy decisions in order to maximise support for change.
Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said later on Monday he did not recognise the cabinet in Heerts’ complaint. Asscher told news agency ANP the government was always open to talks if the unions and employers had suitable alternatives to policy.
‘I would urge the unions and employers to come up with really good proposals, such as one to solve the crisis in the building sector,’ he said.
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