The Hague, May 26, 2019 (AFP) - A Dutch judge Sunday ruled against plans by the country's largest trade union to allow train drivers serving Amsterdam's busy Schiphol airport to join a country-wide strike. Thousands of bus, train and tram drivers are expected strike on Tuesday in
protest at government plans to raise the retirement age from 66 and to demand higher pension payments.
"Our right to call a 24-hour strike remains, with the exception of a limited number of trains running to and from Schiphol," the FNV union said in a statement. "There will be four trains an hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central station... in order to guarantee public order at the airport," the FNV said. Last year, Schiphol was Europe's third-busiest airport with 71.5 million passengers, behind London Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, according to figures by the Airports Council International Europe (ACI). Apart from being the gateway to Amsterdam, Schiphol is also a major transit hub for flights from all around the globe.
The decision by the judge comes after negotiations between Schiphol Airport's management and the FNV broke down earlier on Sunday "despite intensive talks," the FNV said. Schiphol, in a statement, warned of "traffic congestion, limited train access and no buses" during Tuesday's strike. "If you're travelling to or from Schiphol Airport on 28 May, please note that travelling by train is limited and trains and stations will be crowded," the airport said. Although no figures re available, FNV spokeswoman Mariette van Dijk told AFP that "thousands of bus, train and tram drivers, as well as ferry boat captains" were expected to join the strike.
Tuesday's day-long strike follows similar industrial action in March, when public transport was shut down for 66 minutes -- symbolic of the current retirement age. But the government led by business-friendly Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal VVD party accelerated plans to increase the retirement age to 67 years in 2021 and 67 years and three months in 2022. "People are healthier and they live longer," the Dutch government said on its pensions website. "The higher life expectancy makes working for longer and a gradual increase in the state pension age possible," the Dutch government said.
Three children at a creche in The Hague have come down with measles, and a 4th child may have the disease, public broadcaster NOS reports. The children involved had not been vaccinated, and one of them may have caught the disease when on holiday, the broadcaster said. One of the children is over the age of 14 months, when it should have been vaccinated against the disease, but the others are younger.
The children in The Hague bring the total measles cases in the Netherlands to 12 so far this year , compared with an average annual infection rate of 10-20.
The RIVM public health institute said that at the moment no link can be made between The Hague cases and the drop in the number of children being vaccinated in the Netherlands. Currently, 90.2% of Dutch children are vaccinated against potentially serious illnesses such as measles, polio, and whooping cough. This is below the level of 95% the World Health Organisation considers safe.
Vaccine uptake has been declining, prompting a government information campaign, while daycare centres have been demanding the right to refuse children who have not been vaccinated. At the moment this is not yet legally possible.
The last measles epidemic in the Netherlands hit the Dutch Bible belt in 2013. In total, 2600 people were diagnosed with measles, and the outbreak was concentrated in families with young children who had not been vaccinated for religious reasons. One girl, who had not been vaccinated, died.
Amsterdam, March 10, 2019 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people marched through the heavy rain in Amsterdam Sunday, calling on the Dutch government to act to counter the effects of climate change. The organisers, including Greenpeace and a number of Dutch groups, said around 40,000 turned out for the demonstration, the first of its kind in the Netherlands. "The high turnout is the proof that people now want a decisive policy on climate from the government," they said in a statement.
The Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, as part of the country lies below sea level and some of its land has been reclaimed from the sea. "We are under sea level, so we really need to do something about it," said one demonstrator, Esther Leverstein, a 21-yer-old climate studies student at Amsterdam University. "We're great with water (management) but we need to step up our game."
Gert van Rees, a 72-year-old pensioner, said she was concerned for future generations. "We have seven grand-children and sometimes we are really worried. So that's why we are here, it really should change." In February, around 15,000 school students skipped school to march for action on climate change, following the example of their fellow students across the border in Belgium. A second youth march for the climate is scheduled for Thursday in Amsterdam.
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2018 16:28:42 +0100
The Hague, Nov 6, 2018 (AFP) - Irish budget airline Ryanair announced Tuesday it had shut down its Eindhoven base for winter, despite a Dutch court decision stopping it from forcing pilots there to transfer abroad. "The Ryanair base at Eindhoven closed yesterday (Monday), as planned," said a statement from the company. "All pilots and cabin crew have already been offered base transfers, which protects their seniority and earnings, but if any crew members wish to choose redundancies over base transfers then we will respect that choice," it added. On Thursday, a Dutch court ruling forbade Ryanair from imposing the transfer of Dutch pilots elsewhere in Europe. The airline had "abused its power" in deciding to close its Eindhoven base, said the court.
Sixteen pilots brought the case to the Dutch court after Ryanair announced in October it was closing its base at Eindhoven, where four of its planes are based. Joost van Doesburg, spokesman for the Dutch pilots union VNV, told AFP, the pilots were currently at home and would stay home refusing any transfer. The Dutch court ordered Ryanair to continue paying the Dutch pilots who are refusing the imposed transfer, threatening a 250,000-euro ($286,000) fine per pilot should they fail to do so.
In recent months, the airline has had to contend with a wave of industrial action in several European countries as its pilots and cabin staff press for better working conditions. It announced it was cutting back this winter by closing three European bases: Eindhoven and two others in Germany. It said it planned to transfer staff to other bases to limit job losses. The largest trades union in the Netherlands, the FNV, said Tuesday it was launching an action against the company in the name of Ryanair cabin staff, demanding that the company respect Dutch labour laws. On Friday, employment ministers from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands urged the company to respect labour laws across Europe. The European Commission has already warned Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary that he must apply local regulations in each country in which he has employees.
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2018 11:54:35 +0100
The Hague, Nov 2, 2018 (AFP) - Amsterdam could let prostitutes operate outside the city's famed red-light district in a bid to clean up the area and improve conditions for the women who work there, officials said Friday. Sex workers in their glass-fronted booths in the Dutch capital complain that they are subject to gawping from camera-toting tourists, whose presence also deters potential clients. City authorities are therefore debating a plan to give sex workers licences to work elsewhere in Amsterdam, for example in safe, hotel-style purpose-built brothels.
The plan is being pushed by Amsterdam's first female mayor, Femke Halsema, and has been formally proposed by three of the parties in the city's governing coalition - Groenlinks, the progressive D66 and the Socialist Party. "The idea is that sex workers will have more choices than either working from home or in the touristy area where they have much less anonymity," said D66 councillor Alexander Hammelburg. "Secondly, it will solve the problem of a shortage of legal workspaces for sex workers," he told AFP. The 'Wallen' (Dutch for 'canal banks'), is the inner city's seedy red light district and includes its infamous red-framed windows where prostitutes ply their trade.
Amsterdam is taking a series of steps to ease the pressure from tourism. Some 18 million tourists flock to Amsterdam every year -- more than the entire population of the Netherlands. The city has taken major steps to push back against unruly visitors, mainly groups of young men who roam the Wallen at weekends, on pub crawls or to celebrate stag parties drawn by easy access to drugs and prostitution. It has instituted stiff fines and penalties for breaking public disturbance laws, while in August it announced compulsory clean-up breaks in streets and monitoring of crowds.