Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad reports that Radio Netherlands Worldwide General Director Jan Hoek could receive a golden handshake worth over one million euros when he leaves the international public broadcaster.
The cabinet has cut the RNW budget from 46 million euros to just 14 million as part of a raft of austerity measures. The unions have agreed a redundancy package for the 270 employees – out of a total of 350 – who will be dismissed. A new slimmed-down RNW is due to begin operating in January 2013.
Jan Hoek has indicated that he does not intend to stay on in the new organisation. Under the terms of the general redundancy agreement, he would be entitled to a lump sum of about 450,000 euros. That amount could rise considerably, however, because of an arrangement he made with the board of commissioners when he was appointed director general. The arrangement entitles him to a premium if he were forced to leave.
In response to the NRC report, Fons van Westerloo, a member of RNW’s board of commissioners, says the general director is prepared to accept smaller redundancy package – of between 450,000 and one million euros. Mr Van Westerloo says Mr Hoek could, according to his contract, insist on being paid in excess of one million euros. The same contract, however, states that the amount has to be approved by Culture Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt.
Jan Hoek has neither confirmed nor denied the size of the amount. He told NRC that “if agreements were concluded in the past which could lead to entitlements in the future, then whether or not these entitlements are claimed also lies in the future." Chairman of the board of commissioners, former foreign minister Ben Bot, has refused to comment.
The cabinet has put forward legislation to cap golden handshakes for executives in the public sector following strong pressure from parliament. However, the new Standardisation of Top Incomes bill is still being considered by the Council of State, the government’s most senior advisory body - and in any case would only affect new agreements.
The new, slimmed-down, Radio Netherlands will under the foreign ministry as of next year and will focus exclusively on providing impartial information to countries without a free press.
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