'Enormous task' ahead in redeploying workers hit by energy transition

‘Enormous task’ ahead in redeploying workers hit by energy transition

The transition from fossil forms of energy to new types such as wind, solar or geothermal requires huge investment, not only in technology but especially in people,'  the government's highest advisory board SER has told parliament. The government plans to phase out coal-fired power plants as part of its strategy to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and 2,700 jobs at five plants are at stake. The pending closure of the Dutch onshore and offshore gas fields will swell the ranks of workers in the fossil-fuel fired energy plants who need retraining for jobs in the sustainable sector. In total, SER says, tens of thousands of jobs are affected. Workers at power plants are well paid and highly specialised, making a move to new jobs in or out of the energy sector difficult. Some of the coal- and gas-fired power plants can be switched over to other forms of electricty generation such as biomass or wood chips. The government's CO2 reduction goals, however, rely heavily on sustainable energy production. 'The energy transition offers opportunities for employment, innovation and a more sustainable climate. But bottlenecks in the larbour market need to be adressed urgently. And this requires cooperation on all levels,'said SER chairman Mariëtte Hamer. However, skills, training schemes and pay-and-conditions agreements differ widely and some workers even face loss of pensions, experts in the field told the Financieele Dagblad in reaction to the SER report on Friday. The technical  installation sector expects some 20,000 job vacancies by 2020, according to its employers organisation Uneto-Vni. It has opened an energy transition desk and claims workers can move easily into new, green jobs in the sector. Uneto-Vni has 5,000 members with combined annual turnover of €13bn and a workforce numbering 120,000.  More >

Dutch unemployment rate falls again

Unemployment falls again, dips under 4% for first time in 10 years The official Dutch unemployment rate fell again to 3.9% in March, down from 4.1% in February, the national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. This is the lowest figure in over 10 years, the CBS said. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said the challenge now is 'to ensure that people who are still looking for a job find one that suits them'. In particular, the construction industry and healthcare sector need more properly trained staff, the minister said. The new figures mean that 8.7 million people in the Netherlands have a job of at least 12 hours a week. A further 4.2 million people do not work, most of whom are not looking for a job at present. The CBS also says that the gap between the male and female unemployment rate is shrinking. In March 3.8% of men and 4.1% of women were without a job.  More >

Disabled plan has zero benefit: CPB

Scheme to pay disabled less than minimum shot down by CPB Paying people with a disability less than the legal minimum wage is not going to result in significantly more jobs for this group, the government's macro-economic policy unit CPB said on Wednesday. The controversial plan, which was launched by junior social affairs minister Tamara van Ark (VVD), was studied by the CPB and ‘the final effect is nil’, CPB researcher Patrick Koot told the AD. At the moment companies that employ disabled people are given a subsidy by the local council and the person in question is paid according to the same collective labour agreement as his or her colleagues. In the new plan the employer only pays for productivity of the person with a disability, who can then claim a top-up to minimum wage level from their local council. According to the CPB, people who work part-time will want to increase the number of hours they work. However, there is no incentive to work full time because the minimum wage is the maximum they will be able to earn. Assets In addition, the disabled will not be entitled to top-up pay from the council if other people in their household are working or if the person involved has other financial assets. Koot has been invited to discuss the CPB findings with MPs on Wednesday along with Amber Bindel, who represents a group which fights for equal rights for the disabled in the workplace, and wants the cabinet to ditch the plan. The Dutch human rights commission has also slammed the proposals, saying they are discriminatory.  More >

Human rights body slams disabled plan

Human rights council slams plan to cut minimum wage for disabled workers The Dutch human rights commission has criticised government plans to allow employers to pay workers with a physical or mental disability below the minimum wage. Ministers say allowing employers to break minimum pay rates will courage them to take on more disabled staff. Thousands of disabled people have ended up jobless after the government began closing down special sheltered workplaces several years ago. The plan involves allowing employers to pay disabled workers according to their productivity. So if someone is considered 50% disabled, the employer can pay them 50% of the minimum wage. Local authorities will then make up the difference. However, the human rights commission said in its ruling this is discriminatory because disbaled workers will be in a worse position in terms of pensions and fair rewards for their work. By forcing people to ask local authorities for top-up income, they will also fall under the same rules as welfare benefit claimants. And that means no extra income if other people in the household are working or if the person involved has other financial assets. The commission's rulings are not binding on the government. The plan has been severely criticised since it was launched at the end of last month. So far over 68,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to drop the idea.  More >

Wages cost employers an average €38.40

Dutch salaries cost employers an average of €38.40 an hour The average gross wage in the Netherlands, including all employer costs, was around €34.80 an hour in 2017, according to new research by European statistics agency Eurostat. That is a rise of 2.4% on 2016 and roughly in line with increase in the EU as whole, Eurostat said. Denmark topped the list with an average hourly rate of €42.50, followed by Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and France, then the Netherlands. Bulgaria was bottom of the list, with a gross average wage of €4.90 an hour, followed by Romania on €6.30. The figures are based on companies with at least 10 employees and exclude farming and the civil service.  More >