Dutch unions discuss action against budget cuts

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Dutch union leaders met on Tuesday evening to discuss joint action against the upcoming round of budget cuts, currently being discussed by the leaders of the coalition government.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte's minority coalition has already announced some budget cuts but more are in the pipeline. The Dutch economy has slipped into recession and the government wants to cut a further €16 billion from the budget on top of the €18 billion that has already been cut.

The minority VVD/CDA cabinet relies on the far-right Freedom Party in order to get its legislation through parliament. This has led to a number of difficult compromises, such as cuts to the international aid budget, as well as cutting subsidies for numerous cultural and public broadcasting organisations.

Last week, CNV chair Jaap Smit called on fellow union leaders to enter into discussions with the cabinet and employers' organisations. Smit wants to discuss proposals to freeze wages as a way of preventing other painful measures from being carried out.

However, FNV chair Agnes Jongerius has already announced her opposition to a wage freeze. Two unions affiliated with the FNV, which is the largest union in the Netherlands, say the cabinet and employers' organisations haven't put any proposals on the table that are worth discussing.

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