The recent Cabinet decision to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 has had far-reaching consequences, and the Labour Party's support for the measure has not been popular among its backers. The left-wing de Volkskrant reports that emotions were running high at a party meeting in Rotterdam last Friday, and one woman in the audience was applauded when she called out, "this will split the party".
AD writes that Labour party leaders Wouter Bos and Mariëtte Hamer will face a hostile audience this evening as they attempt to convince members of the Political Committee (the PC is comprised of delegates from organisations with more than 500 members) that supporting the measure was a good idea. Labour MPs appear before the 70-strong PC several times a year to account for their actions and although it is purely an advice organ, that advice does carry an enormous amount of influence.
The populist tabloid writes that the unions will attempt to "influence the atmosphere at tonight's meeting". FNV director Henk van der Kolk tells the paper, "I believe the decision will be severely criticised. Let's hope that a majority decides to send the Labour leaders back to the negotiating table".
De Volkskrant quotes Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak, "there's a 50-50 chance that we'll be able to convince people it was the right decision".
It's going to be another interesting week in Dutch politics.
Old boys network under threat
Despite all sorts of 'encouragement measures', the number of women in senior positions in business and government remains shockingly low here in the Netherlands. De Volkskrant writes that an investigation by researchers at Erasmus University found that support for more diversity in senior positions was limited to, "pretty speeches but no action". Researchers say that if Dutch companies continue at the same rate, women will finally occupy one third of senior positions in 2090.
But it appears that Dutch politicians are going to make a real attempt to break the glass ceiling: MPs will today debate a measure requiring companies employing more than 250 people to have women occupying at least 30 percent of senior positions. However, a majority of MPs say they will not support establishing a quota. VVD MP Frans Weekers says "this is a temporary measure is designed to boost attempts to break down the old boys’ network".
Trouw reports that KPN, a large telecom concern, has decided that a number of vacancies will be reserved for women candidates because, "there are still too few women occupying senior positions at KPN". Trouw writes that women hold just 17 percent of the senior positions at the telecom company despite eight years of affirmative action.
If Dutch politicians really want more women in senior positions, then they need to address the issues that concern working mothers, namely the chronic shortage of good, affordable day care and after-school programmes.
Panic after healthy 14-year-old dies from Mexican flu
AD reports that a wave of panic flooded the country late on Friday after a healthy 14-year-old girl from Haarlem died from pandemic A (H1N1), known in the Netherlands as Mexican flu. The paper writes that waiting rooms at GPs surgeries were full to bursting and telephone lines were busy from dusk till dawn as concerned parents attempted to get advice.
According to one out of hours GP service, "all hell broke loose on Friday evening, even though there were six assistants and five GPs working, we were overwhelmed. All eight telephone lines were ringing constantly."
Trouw reports that Public Health Minister Ab Klink has called on the Medical Council and the Infectious Disease Centre to reassess earlier advice not to immunise healthy children against A (H1N1).
Squatters protest ban
Sunday's De Telegraaf prints a photo that could have been taken 30 years ago: a group of young people, all wearing leather jackets covered with buttons, safety pins and studs, with fabulous mohawks and strange spiky hair creations, protesting against a government decision.
Last week, the lower house banned squatting and around 500 squatters marched through Utrecht on Sunday to protest the move. The paper writes that a few people were arrested but that it was largely a good-natured protest.
The photograph in de Volkskrant is really quite bizarre, in the midst of denim-clad squatters with dreadlocks stands a young blonde woman holding a placard; she's wearing black pumps, dark stockings, a neat grey suit and carrying a trendy handbag. Her placard reads, "Housing is a right," and she tells the paper that she joined the protest "to make it clear that not all squatters are alike".
Burglar protests after being filmed ransacking house
AD and the Sunday edition of De Telegraaf both report that a burglar has complained to the Lawbreakers Union (BOW) - no, this is not a joke, it does exist - that police in Drente violated his right to privacy after a video of him breaking into the home of an 88-year-old woman in Emmen was uploaded onto the internet.
De Telegraaf says the Lawbreakers Union, which works to protect the rights of prisoners, former prisoners and suspects, has officially complained to the national ombudsman. A BOW spokesperson tells the paper, "The man in the film says this is out of all proportion. He says he did go into the house but that this shouldn't be allowed".
AD reports that family members hung cameras up after a series of break-ins and when they realised they had caught someone ransacking the house, they handed the videotape to the police. In an attempt to catch the thief, police put the video on YouTube. The BOW says "it's not clear if he actually stole anything and the police response is out of all proportion to the crime".