News from Amsterdam

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11/1 Jurists want to stay in Oudemanhuispoort

8/2 Mayor’s portrait

8/2 Websites for social cohesion

7/2 Spreading tourism proceeds with difficulty

7/2 GroenLinks on districts: Be a man

6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

4/2 Wilders has little support on Amsterdam

3/2 Elite involved in neighbourhood

2/2 Johnnie Walker avoids taxes in Amsterdam

1/2 Rotterdam to tinker with district councils as well

31/1 Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31/1 ZeeburgTV launched

27/1 Privacy activists to mess up loyalty card system

27/1 A few were still coughing, but that was an act

27/1 Chrisis in de Baarsjes

26/1 Youth have positive view of districts

24/1 Action groups call for Carmel and Jaffa boycott

24/1 PvdA members dismiss plan for districts

23/1 KLM takes on crisis with new uniform

23/1 District office not squatted

21/1 Merge districts

20/1 Closing squat bar Vrankrijk not necessary

20/1 Cleaners welcome new Schiphol director

18/1 Palestine at the Jewish Historical Museum

18/1 What is the right size for a district?

17/1 PvdA Oost against fewer districts

16/1 Committee: 7 districts by 2010

15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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The right to be lazy

2 May 2006 – Making the labour market more flexible is fine, on condition that a basic income is introduced to provide income security. This should also entail the right to be lazy, Rutger Groot Wassink said yesterday at the Labour Day meeting at De Balie.

According to the historian Groot Wassink, making the labour market more flexible is too easily presented as the magic solution to an ageing population and competition from China. People who have their doubts about this flexible labour market, such as protesting French youth, are dismissed too easily as being ‘ridiculous and conservative’ in the press.

Groot Wassink was critical of the new AVV trade union and its leader, Mei Li Vos, who have embraced the flexible labour market as the new reality. “This flexibility is fine for the winners. No one needs to worry about Mei Li Vos – or myself - for we can take care of ourselves”.

Paper boy
For many people, however, more flexibility means growing insecurity. “I just do not buy the idea that there is something romantic about the struggle for life”, said Groot Wassink. As a solution, he advocated the introduction of a modest basic income. Whoever wants more than the basic necessities, can earn an additional income on the flexible labour market.

One of the organisers of the meeting was Flexmens, an organisation that is connected to the European flexworkers movement that started in Milan. Every year on May 1st, this movement organises manifestations in a number of European cities on issues such as the flexible labour market, intellectual property and open borders.

Flexmens’ Merijn Oudenampsen opened the meeting with a nice column about his past as a paper boy. Among other things, he told about raids in which illegal paper boys were detained, which went unreported in the same newspapers they used to deliver. Except for the one time that it was written that ‘criminal paperboys’ would have been detained.

A documentary showed how the American trade union SEIU has succeeded through assertive campaigns in organising office cleaners, who had long been considered ‘unorganisable’ due to the large share of immigrants and high turnover among workers.

FNV Bondgenoten’s Eddy Stam is working with SEIU to introduce their methods in the Netherlands as well. This has yielded large numbers of new members, and a raise in salary, he told. At times, however, employers offer fierce resistance, sometimes showing labour rights to be of limited value in practice.

For example, strikers at the multinational ISS company were intimidated by transferring them to a location at an hour’s travel from were they lived. If they do not accept this, they are not even entitled to unemployment benefit. Earlier that evening, Willem Dekker and Nisha had explained in a column that at the C1000 supermarket as well, one has to be pretty determined in order to be able to excercise one’s rights.

De Balie will further explore the issue of income insecurity in September

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