Welfare benefit claimants in Rotterdam no longer have to pick up litter as a way of earning part of their income, the Volksrant reported on Wednesday.
The activity is part of a programme called ‘Werk Loont’ aimed at people who have not been claiming benefits for long. It requires welfare (bijstand) claimants to pick up litter one day a week for 15 weeks, unless they find an alternative paid job.
But many people experience the work as demeaning and pointless, which is why new employment alderman Richard Moti has now abolished the measure, the paper said.
As long ago as 2015 the national ombudsman wrote about ‘groups of forty people a day dressed in festive orange that go into the small neighbourhood of Zevenkamp to pick up litter.
‘There is nothing to pick up. Zevenkamp has never been cleaner. Picking up litter is not bad in itself, but this is pointless,’ the ombudsman said.
Some 5,159 people have picked up litter in Rotterdam between 2015 and now.
Moti said he understands the criticism. ‘People have to do voluntary work but they have to learn from it. If you want to work in healthcare it would be much better to get work experience in a care home, for instance.’
Opposition party Leefbaar Rotterdam has accused the alderman of ‘gesture politics’.
‘There is nothing wrong with picking up litter. The people of Rotterdam approve of it and it stimulates the brain and activates the person,’ spokesman Ehsan Jami told the paper.
Moti will present a more detailed plan to get more people back into work this autumn.
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