PostNL had secret deal for 'self employed' with tax office: Volkskrant

Politicians, Schiphol and airlines must work together: KLM chief

MPs have demanded junior finance minister Eric Wiebes explain claims that the tax office struck a secret deal with postal delivery firm PostNL enabling it to get around rules on freelancing. Most PostNL parcel delivery staff are officially self-employed even though they only have one employer, which allows PostNL to avoid paying social security premiums, pension premiums, sick pay and holiday pay, the Volkskrant said. The paper estimates the deal allowed PostNL to save €15m a year. [banner] The company has admitted it had a deal with the tax office from 2011 to 2013 which meant self-employed delivery staff did not have to have a VAR - a tax office declaration which states they have at least four employers and meet other conditions to be classed officially as freelancers. The paper says it is not clear if the deal is ongoing. Although since 2014, freelance delivery staff have to have a VAR, those who say they only have one employer are still granted the document, the Volkskrant said. Confidentiality Labour MP John Kerstens has now called on Wiebes to clarify the situation. 'We have often talked about the deals the tax office strikes with big companies, but this time we are talking about a domestic operation,' he said. 'These delivery workers are said to be self-employed but in fact they have no input, have to buy a van and cannot chose how and when they work,' he said. The tax office refused to comment on the claims. 'We have to abide by confidentiality and can say nothing about individual cases or companies,' a spokesman said.  More >

Dutch PM slams 'me me me' culture

Dutch prime minister slams ‘me me me’ culture Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has criticised what he calls the 'big fat me mentality' in the Netherlands in a speech to VVD supporters. Rutte told a party gathering in Arnhem on Friday evening he did not want to live in a society in which people think they can do what they like and still have the right to all sorts of services. The values of the 'hard working Dutchman' should be central in society, Rutte said. 'In such a society, you take care of yourself and you give to another,' he said. 'You treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.' [banner] In particular Rutte condemned the 'loutishness and egoism' exhibited at institutions supported by the taxpayer, such as housing corporations, schools and banks. 'I get so irritated by bankers who say that they need to be paid more because they can earn so much more abroad,' he said. 'Then I think, 'off you go to London then, cheerio'.' Rutte also criticised the way people denigrate teachers, police officers and soldiers. 'I don't understand why parents get so angry if their child comes home with an extra assignment as punishment,' Rutte, who still teaches at a vmbo school in The Hague once a week, said.  More >

'Delta plan' needed for Dutch aviation

Politicians, Schiphol and airlines must work together: KLM chief The Dutch aviation sector can only thrive if politicians, Schiphol airport and airlines work together, KLM chairman Pieter Elbers says in an interview in the weekend Telegraaf. There needs to be a 'delta plan' for aviation, Elbers said, referring to the concerted effort to stop flooding in the Rhine river delta following the 1953 floods. Increasing competition from the Middle East is threatening KLM and Schiphol's position, he said. KLM itself will also have to take steps, including making both spending cuts and investments, he told the paper. [banner] Elbers says the aviation sector generates 330,000 jobs in the Netherlands and has added value to the economy of €30bn. Last week Qatar Airways said it wanted more slots at Schiphol airport but the government has refused to give the airline any more landing rights, citing unfair competition.  More >

4,500 Chinese on Dutch company outing

Politicians, Schiphol and airlines must work together: KLM chief Some 4,500 Chinese workers are in the Netherlands for the next few days for a mass company outing, the biggest single group of Chinese tourists ever to visit the Netherlands. The group, who will be ferried around the country in a fleet of 90 buses, work for a Chinese company called Perfect, broadcaster Nos reports. They are staying in hotels throughout the country including Rotterdam, Delft, Amsterdam and Utrecht, the broadcaster says. In total, the Dutch tourist board expects the visit to generate up to €8m. [banner] Last year, some 250,000 Chinese tourists visited the Netherlands and the tourist board expects this to rise to 300,000 this year. According to RTL news, their number could triple to 800,000 within the next five years. Most are expected to visit Amsterdam, where many city centre residents are worried about the growing number of tourists. 'It is getting out of hand. There are so many tourists that we can hardly do normal shopping any more,' Harry Haspers of the local residents' association told RTL.  More >

Dutch fund research into robot journalism

Politicians, Schiphol and airlines must work together: KLM chief Tilburg University and the Fontys hbo college have been given a €700,000 government grant to carry out research into automated journalism. The money will be spent on developing algorithms to write news articles automatically instead of using journalists. The research is supported by the media organisation NDP whose members include Persgroep newspaper group, broadcaster RTL and news agency ANP, according to a Fontys press release. Some of the research will be carried out at the Telegraaf. [banner] Hille van der Kaa, who is leading the Tilburg research, said every aspect of journalism which can be automated will be. Threat ‘Journalists see these developments as being a long way off but this technology is already entering the journalistic sphere,’ she said. ‘And it is happening more quickly than expected.’ Robots which can write flawless, simple items at speed will free up journalists to work on more complicated, in-depth items,’ Van der Kaa said. US news agency AP is already using algorithms to write simple financial and sports reports.  More >