par Planet Labor
The Bakker Commission, appointed in 2007 by a coalition government unable to find an agreement on the softening of the law on dismissal and other social reforms, gave its annual report on June 16. Unexpectedly, it recommends postponing retirement age by two years to bring it up to 67 years old.
The Bakker Commission proposes a very gradual delay of retirement age, at the rate of one month each year starting in 2016, to get to 67 in 2040. In addition, it draws upon one of the most controversial propositions of the Labor Party (the PDVA, in power): tax basic public pensions as of 2011, so that all retirees born after 1946 and getting supplementary pension can pay for it too.
Reduction the duration of unemployment benefits. The other major proposition of the work group led by Peter Bakker, former CEO of the postal group TNT, concerns the creation of a special budget for every employee, funded by the State, employers and employees. The goal is to face potential unemployment periods, take training leaves or take care of a family member who has become sick. As for employers, they should pay their employees up to six months after their dismissal, while helping them find another job. Consequently, unemployment benefits would last 12 months maximum instead of 36 for the moment, and six months maximum for employees who already received six months’ pay from their former employer and didn’t find a job.
Possible coming reforms. The liberal party (VVD) deplored the lack of propositions concerning the softening of the law on dismissals. Stef Block, VVD MP, thinks that SMEs and SMIs "won’t be able" to keep paying fired employees for six months. The members of the center-left coalition in power responded with caution. Piet Hein Donner, Christian-Democrat Minister of Social Affairs, talked about "ways towards future solutions." However, he reminded that the Bakker report won’t be applied as such. Its recommendations will probably not come into force any time soon. However, the Bakker Commission, like others before, could have outlined coming social policies. Since 2003, there has been a trend of drastic reduction of the Welfare State in the Netherlands.
Planet Labor, June 19, 2008, No. 080513 – www.planetlabor.com