Economists see growth slowdown as labour shortage starts to bite

The shortage of labour in the Netherlands will have an impact on economic growth next year, according to a new report by Rabobank economists. Rabobank says that while growth will continue, it will be hit by both the shortage of workers and falling growth rates abroad. The Dutch economy will grow by 1.9% next year and 1.7% in 2020, the economists say. This year they put growth at 2.6%. In particular the shortage of workers is having an effect on the construction sector and fewer new homes are being built. Now the time is right for the government to invest and make a serious effort to boost sustainability, such as the introduction of a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, the economists say. 'Invest in productivity,' chief economist Menno Middeldorp told broadcaster NOS. 'Delaying decisions reduces the risk that difficult decisions will have to be taken in the future, under more difficult economic circumstances.' ABN Amro said on Monday it is also revising down its economic growth forecast next year, from 2.5% to 2%. It, too, puts economic growth this year at 2.6%.    More >

Dutch women still prefer part time jobs

Dutch women are working slightly more hours a week, particularly after the birth of children but are still European champions at part time jobs, according to a new report. Between 2015, when the last Emancipation Monitor was published, and 2017, the number of hours worked by women a week went up from an average of 27 to 28. The monitor is compiled by the national statistics agency CBS and the SCP government think-tank. In 2007, 40% of women worked the same number of hours after the birth of a child, but that has now gone up to 60%. 'Women are still more likely to have a part time job before they get pregnant but they are picking it up again after the birth,' SCP researcher Wil Portegijs said. 'One reason for this could be that it is easier to use childcare facilities.' The increase in the number of hours worked by women means that more mothers are now economically independent. In 2007, 54% of mothers could stand on their own two feet financially but that has now risen to 66%. Nevertheless, the Netherlands still leads Europe in terms of part time jobs. In total, 74% of women work part time, compared with an an EU average of 31%. But in terms of spending time taking care of children, parents in the Netherlands spent a similar amount of time as elsewhere in Europe.  More >

Farmed duck is off the menu in 2019

Some ducks Supermarkets Albert Heijn, Aldi and Lidl are banning the sale of industrial barn-raised ducks from next year in the wake of a campaign by animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier. Barn ducks are living under dire circumstances, Wakker Dier says, with 13 ducks squeezed into one square meter, without access to water for swimming and fresh air. They are also forced to stand on iron grid floor which causes serious injury to their feet. ‘We had been contemplating a ban but this campaign has perhaps speeded things up, an Albert Heijn spokesperson told broadcaster NOS. ‘For the sake of animal welfare we have decided to sell only free range duck from next year.’ Lidl is also scrapping industrially-produced duck from the menu. ‘We have been working with our supplier towards better circumstances for farmed ducks and we’re aiming for at least free range,’ NOS quotes a spokesperson as saying. The change will take time which is why Lidl has decided not to sell duck at Easter, NOS said. Wakker Dier said that there is no quality label for duck meat because it is not something that is widely consumed. ‘But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make their lives better and increase public awareness,’ a Wakker Dier spokesperson told the broadcaster.  More >

Four arrested for nude photo blackmail

One man and three women have been arrested for blackmailing at least 10 young women by threatening to place nude photographs of them online, Zeeland police said on Friday. The victims, aged between 18 and 25, come from all over the country and there may be more, the broadcaster said. The investigation began after a young woman from Vlissingen went to the police, saying she was being blackmailed into handing over cash to stop nude photos being placed on the internet. That led police to identify a 23-year-old man in The Hague. He may also face rape charges after attacking one of his victims when she brought him the money. His telephone and laptop led to three other women aged 18 to 26 who may be involved in the blackmailing. Their role in the case is still being investigated. Police spokesman Aris van Herwijnen said the suspect had made contact with the victims via a fake profile on a dating site. Once he had a nude photo he would make contact with the woman via another social media channel, using another fake profile, and start the blackmail process.  More >

Secondary school system too rigid: report

The Dutch education council is recommending that first year secondary school pupils should be taught in mixed ability classes so that they get to know people from a wider section of society. The proportion of mixed ability first year classes, known as brugklassen or bridge classes in Dutch, has gone down from 70% to 55% over the past 10 years, the council says. Another problem is that many Dutch secondary schools - particularly in cities - no longer offer a mix of academic streams, and children are segregated from other ability groups all together. 'People end up living in their own clubs and that can create a schism in society,' the council's chairwoman Henriette Maaseen van den Brink said in Friday's Trouw. The council also says it should be easier for children to switch between different streams - something which has become harder in recent years and which disadvantages late developers. Dutch children are selected for one of three streams at the age of 12: pre-university (vwo), pre-college (havo) and vocational training (vmbo). Earlier this year, a survey of 2,000 teachers showed three-quarters had faced pressure from parents to recommend children went to a more academic secondary school. The pressure to avoid vmbo schools led school inspectors in 2016 to say there is an ‘unacceptable’ inequality in Dutch secondary schools and the children of well-educated parents are scoring better in final exams than children of equal intelligence from more disadvantaged backgrounds.  More >

Worst slogan prize goes to hairdresser

The prize for the worst, and deeply sexist, slogan of 2018 has been awarded to hipster men’s hairdressing salon Rogier Barbier in Laren for We doen wel vrouwen maar knippen ze niet (We do women but we don’t cut their hair). It’s not the first time a hairdresser has snapped up the prize. Two years ago salon Local Heroes in Utrecht came up with the feeble Zit je haircut, a play on Zit je haar kut (are you having a bad hair day?). Rogier Barbier, which describes itself on line as a 'place where real men get together' will receive a decorative tile with the slogan printed on it to commemorate the effort. The annual bad slogan competition was started seven years ago by communications lecturer Christine Liebrecht and publicist Tefke van Dijk who collect the best, or worst, examples on a blog. Most of the clumsy and cheesy slogans rely on rhyming the slogan with a name and are therefore impossible to translate. Here’s the top five: We doen wel vrouwen maar knippen ze niet (Barbier Rogier, Laren) Ga niet zelf kutte, Bel Ronald Schutte! (Stukadoorsbedrijf Schutte, Dordrecht) (Don't do it yourself, ring Ronald Schutte. Voor ieder reetje een Aarts W.C'tje (Aarts Sanitair Service, Eindhoven) (An Aarts toilet for every backside) Met je fiets in de penarie? Bel dan even met Harie (Fietsenmaker Harrie, Posterholt) (In a mess with your bike? ring Harie) Theo en Peet, voor al u electriciteet (PC van der Peet, Rijswijk)   More >

Correspondent hits US crowdfunding target

Dutch online journalism website De Correspondent has raised $2.5m via crowdfunding to launch a version of their platform in the US. In total, almost 43,000 people have put money into the project to produce an English language version of the site, which promised in depth background articles and no advertising. Prior to the latest crowdfunding campaign, the Correspondent had raised $1.8m to launch its American adventure. That money, the company said in May, would mainly go on setting up a US campaign office, and creating promotional videos and other campaign materials. De Correspondent was launched in September 2013 after raising more than €1 million in a Dutch crowd-funding campaign. The Dutch website has some 60,000 paying members but this is the first year it has made a profit, the NRC reported on Friday. It also attracts considerable sponsorship from Dutch media funds. The company plans to launch its US service in mid 2019, promising at least one major article a day produced by a team of five correspondents.  More >

2018 is already the sunniest on record

With 18 days to go before the end of the year, 2018 has already gone down in the record books as the sunniest on record, weather website Weerplaza said on Thursday. On Thursday morning, the number of sunny hours broke the 2,022 barrier, surpassing the previous record of 2,021 hours, 40 minutes, which was set in 2003. It is only the second time more than 2,000 hours of sunshine have been recorded since records began in 1901. In an average year, the sun shines for 1,600 hours. Weerplaza said one reason for the increase in sunshine is improved air quality. Thirty years ago, for example, the average amount of sunshine was no higher than 1,500 hours. 'It was quite normal for there to be weeks of fog in the spring,' a spokesman said. Friday and Saturday will also be sunny but there may be some snow or sleet on Sunday. Light frosts are on the cards for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Weerplaza said.  More >

Commission calls for binding referendums

The Dutch parliamentary system is outdated and urgent action needs to be taken to ensure a large percentage of the population again feel represented, according to a government commission set up to look at reforms. The commission, under the leadership of Noord-Holland king's commissioner Johan Remkes, has been studying the situation for two years and concludes that updates to the current electoral system are needed. The last major overhaul took place in 1917 when universal suffrage for men was introduced. Since then, people have become richer, better educated and better informed, the commission says. However, the gap between the well-educated and low-skilled has become wider, the country is more culturally diverse and people are more likely to speak their mind due to digitalisation, the commission said. The low-skilled in particular do not feel that they are being heard and that their interests are not being taken into account in decision-making, and in the long term 'that is worrying', Remkes said. The commission has made a number of recommendations to close the gap in society and make parliament more accountable. These include: The introduction of a binding, corrective referendum for new legislation, with a 'no' vote from 33% of the electorate required to have laws scrapped. More emphasis on preference voting in the national elections, perhaps with an element of regional representation. The person who leads coalition formation talks should be elected, not appointed May 5 (Liberation Day) should be a public holiday Ministers will respond to the proposals in the coming months. Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said in an initial reaction that the cabinet would take up the challenge and that she hoped for a broad public debate.  More >