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Cabinet ‘failing to close gap’ between full-time and flexible workers

THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly three-quarters of people on temporary contracts would prefer a full-time job, but barely a quarter of self-employed workers feel the same, according to a survey by Maurice de Hond reported in the Telegraaf.

The poll was commissioned by the centrist-liberal D66 party in response to social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher’s efforts to close the gap between salaried staff and flexible workers. The balance between self-employed and staff workers has been a point of recurring tension between the two parties in the VVD-Labour coalition since it took office in 2012.

The number of full-time jobs has fallen steadily in recent years to around five million, while some two million workers are hired on flexible contracts, either on a temporary basis, through employment agencies or through a payroll agreement.

Labour (PvdA) says many of these workers are forced to take jobs on less favourable terms than full-time staff and wants to improve protection for them, but the VVD argues they should be treated as independent entrepeneurs and given more opportunities to succeed.

‘Wide gap’

Legislation which Asscher hoped would encourage companies to give permanent contracts to temporary or flexible staff came into effect last summer but has been widely criticised by unions and employers.

Schools in Friesland this week began cutting their use of temporary staff in protest against the restrictions included in the law, such as the rule that workers can only be offered three temporary contracts in two years.

Parliament is due to debate the law on Wednesday and Asscher has already indicated he is prepared to make changes, the Telegraaf said.


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