Eindhoven University opens academic jobs to women only

For the next 18 months, all academic jobs at Eindhoven University of Technology will be open to female candidates only in an effort to improve the balance between men and women on the permanent staff. If a vacancy fails to attract suitable candidates within six months, it will be opened up to men, and after 18 months the entire scheme will be revised, the university said on Tuesday. The university expects to have some 150 positions to fill with the next few years. Female newcomers will also be given an extra starter package, including €100,000 which they can use for their own research and a special mentoring programme, the university said. To achieve a better gender balance we will be opening up all vacancies for permanent academic staff exclusively to women in the first six months of recruitment. 👩‍🎓👩‍🔬👩‍🏫https://t.co/dMFIt6fLF2 pic.twitter.com/HdDEObtrM6 — TU Eindhoven (@TUeindhoven) June 18, 2019 'We attach great importance to equal respect and opportunities for women and men,” said university rector Frank Baaijens. 'And it has long been known that a diverse workforce performs better. It leads to better strategies, more creative ideas and faster innovation.' Measures already in place to boost the number of women among the university's academic staff are not having the desired effect, he said. 'We are now using the fact that plans to expand our academic staff considerably in the coming years can be used as a means to make a big step forward in one fell swoop.' All in all, the university wants at least half of all newly-appointed assistant professors to be women while the minimum for associate professors and full professors will be 35%. The Irène Curie Fellowship programme will run for five years.  More >

Centres for problem asylum seekers to shut

The Netherlands' two centres for problem asylum seekers are both to be closed down at the end of this year. The centres in Heerenveen and in Amsterdam were opened on two-year contracts in 2017 and were each supposed to house 50 asylum seekers who caused trouble at regular centres and needed to be moved elsewhere. Most of the residents come from safe third countries such as Morocco and face deportation but have not yet been sent back. In Amsterdam, city officials have said they will close the centre as planned. 'We were being called out to incidents involving the residents at least twice a week,' a police spokesman told broadcaster NOS. The decision to close the centre had been taken due to the scarcity of property in the Dutch capital and to comply with promises to locals, mayor Femke Halsema said. 'It is now time for other towns and cities to take on this role,' she said. In Heerenveen, where the other centre is located, its residents have been banned from several parts of town, including the local shopping centre because of the problems they cause. 'We have had to deal mainly with people who have no chance of getting a permanent residency permit,' mayor Niek Loohuis told NOS. The justice ministry has pledged to speed up the assessment of asylum requests by people from safe countries, so they can be sent back as quickly as possible. On Monday it emerged that thousands of rejected migrants are stuck in the Netherlands because their home countries have refused to take them back. Meanwhile, police said on Tuesday that three men were wounded in a stabbing incident at a refugee centre in Harderwijk on Monday night. Two were taken to hospital.  More >

Part-time work more popular

Some 7% of working people in the Netherlands would like to cut their hours while 9% would like to work more, according to research by national statistics agency CBS. In particular, women who work full time would like to work less, the CBS said. Some 14% of women and 8% of men who work at least 36 hours a week would like more time off. Research published at the end of last year showed Dutch women are working slightly more hours a week, particularly after the birth of children but are still European champions at part time jobs. In total, 74% of women work part time, compared with an an EU average of 31%. But in terms of spending time taking care of children, parents in the Netherlands spent a similar amount of time as elsewhere in Europe. Labour economist Ton Wilthagen told RTLZ that people without children are also keen to cut their hours. 'They want a free day for their hobbies,' he said. 'In addition, lots of people spend a day working at home. So they are really only in the office three days a week.' Some pay agreements now give staff the option of working 4x9 hours a day so they can have a day off, he said.  More >

Teens beg for cash via Tikkie payments

ABN Amro is trying to get to grips with a new phenomena - begging online for cash using its micro payment system Tikkie - because it is often unclear who is behind the accounts. So far the bank has managed to have 50 of an estimated 100 'Tikkie accounts' removed from Facebook and Instagram, in which people ask for donations so they can by food or have plastic surgery, broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday. Tikkie is a system which allows people to pay over money using a payment link either via a mobile phone or social media. Some five million people in the Netherlands have downloaded the app and some 200,000 payments are made using it every day. Now youngsters are using the system to raise money, often in tiny amounts, NOS said. Mustafa, 15, told the broadcaster he had raised €12 though his Tikkie voor iPhonex account. Wouter and Sacha claim to have raised 'a good amount' with their Tikkie voor Kaas account. ABN Amro is not happy with the trend and is trying to tackle it. 'We are in touch with Facebook, which owns Instagram, about how to solve it,' a spokesman told the broadcaster. 'We do take these sorts of accounts offline and Facebook and Instagram are trying as well.' Youngsters should be extremely careful about making payments to unknown accounts because they can be exposing themselves to fraud, the bank said. Accounts which wrongly use the Tikkie logo are automatically removed but it is more problematic if people are simply trying to raise money for a new phone or a trip to the US, the spokesman said.  More >

MPs take the train to get to work

Two third of MPs take the train to get to work and electric cars are also popular under parliamentarians, according to a survey of 79 MPs' commuting habits by the Financieele Dagblad. The car is the most popular means of commuting in the population at large, with three in five people opting to drive to work. That rises to four in five if the distance is more than 15 kilometres. The train is the most popular method of transport across the party spectrum, the FD said, although the car is popular with the right-wing VVD. MPs, the paper notes, get a free first-class season ticket to use the train. In addition, parliament is just a short walk from The Hague's main railway station. Of the MPs who drive, 17% have a hybrid car - while just 1.6% of the cars on the Dutch roads are both petrol and electricity powered. VVD parliamentary leader Klaas Dijkhoff is the only MP who runs an electric car. The paper notes that the difference in transparency between the parties is great. GroenLinks MPs did not take part because of privacy concerns, although a spokesman said that most MPs had a public transport season ticket. Denk and Forum voor Democratie did not respond to the paper's request for information. This weekend, Forum leader Thierry Baudet was fined for driving a rental  electric moped on a bike path in Amsterdam. Beboete Thierry Baudet vindt de regels voor snorscooters te verwarrendhttps://t.co/8TJC2Mn5Eh pic.twitter.com/lT1fFAkYOO — AT5 (@AT5) June 16, 2019   More >

Zandvoort Grand Prix tickets hit €140

Tickets for next year's Zandvoort Grand Prix will cost upwards of €140 per adult for one day's racing, according to the race website. Registration for tickets closed on Sunday and actual ticket sales will start on June 24 via email, the organisers said. If demand for tickets outstrips supply there will be a lottery. The date for the race in the Netherlands, the first in 36 years, has not yet been set but is likely to be May 3 or May 10. The race will be held before the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May but the 2020 calendar 'has not been finalised'. The last Zandvoort Grand Prix, which was won by Niki Lauda, took place in 1985. The Dutch fixture dropped off the calendar because it was to expensive to stage. The cost in 2020 expected to hit €40m, which includes a €20m fee to the Formula 1 organisation. Some €10m needs to be spent on improving facilities at the track, including building temporary stands. The money will come from sponsors and ticket sales. The circuit has been divided into seven zones with different ticket prices per area. The cheapest, for the dunes, is €140 for Sunday's race day or €185 for a weekend. The most expensive - the golden zone - costs €510 for a passe partout for the entire weekend. Children will cost €82 in the dune area and people with disabilities face a €185 ticket for the race day itself. Some 100,000 people are expected to attend the event. The government said earlier it will not contribute financially to plans to bring Formula 1 racing back to the Netherlands because it would not be a justifiable use of taxpayers money.  More >

Islamic school 'cleared' of Salafism

Senior staff at Amsterdam's Islamic secondary school have been involved in financial misconduct but there is no hard evidence that the school is indoctrinating pupils in the fundamentalist form of Islam know as 'Salafism', according to a report by school inspectors. The report has not been officially published and the Cornelius Haga Lyceum is seeking an injunction against the Dutch state to block publication but it has been widely leaked to the media. The inspectors criticism focuses on three areas: the financial strategy, the fact that the school does not sufficiently distance itself from people with a controversial reputation, and the provocative behaviour of director Soner Atasoy, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday. In addition, the inspectors say they have no confidence that order can be restored under the current leadership. The NRC, however, says the report is noteworthy because inspectors have been unable to find 'anti-democratic tendencies', despite claims by the AIVD security service earlier this year that school is being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’. That briefing led the city's mayor Femke Halsema to freeze all funding to the school until the entire board resign. Concerns In addition, two experts shown the report by the NRC said that the inspectors appeared to be concerned about issues which did not fall under their remit, such as the finances. And Tilburg education law professor Paul Zoontjes told the paper the report's conclusions are 'very weak' and that the report would appear to be aimed at helping the minister [education minister Arie Slob] politically. The Cornelius Haga Lyceum opened its doors in 2017, despite efforts by both the city council and the education ministry to prevent it from opening. The then education minister Sander Dekker had refused to allocate funding for the school, because a former board member was alleged to have shown support for IS on Facebook. Earlier this year, Slob also threatened to withdraw funding. The injunction will be heard on Thursday.  More >

SNS bank to get personal

At a time when Dutch banks are doing more online and closing branches, Dutch bank SNS is to decentralise its services and focus more on personal contact with customers. 'We are going against the trend of centralising and digitalising contact with clients,' the bank said in a statement. 'Customers will soon have direct access to a permanent and personal team in their nearest SNS branch, rather than a call centre with constantly changing personel or a menu of choices.' The bank's 200 branches are to be revamped and will replace much of the work currently done by the two big call centres in Utrecht and Groningen. The bank branches will over a complete range of advisory services. 'We are going for 'personal' and lowering the threshold for people to get in touch,' said SNS chief executive Ton Timmerman. 'By the end of the year, all our 200 branches and the client teams will be using this new approach.' Research published by the Dutch consumers association Consumentenbond on Monday showed that a large group of bank customers are unhappy about the levels of service and the cost of banking. SNS was fifth in the ranking of the eight biggest Dutch banks, with the big three coming bottom of the list.  More >

Temperatures forecast to reach 30 degrees

Summer is due to return this week with many parts of the country topping the 30-degree mark, according to weather forecasters. The cloud cover on Monday is set to drift away, with temperatures ranging from 22 in the Wadden islands to 25 in the cities and 27 in the east, Weeronline predicts. Tuesday is likely to be one or two degrees cooler as more clouds gather overhead, but the rain will largely hold off. Wednesday is expected to be the brightest day as the skies clear to allow temperatures to reach 24 degrees on the coast and 28 to 30 degrees in some eastern areas. Thursday and Friday will be cooler again at 18 to 22 degrees, with showers likely on Thursday, but the warm weather will return at the weekend, when inland areas could get up to 25 degrees. More showers are expected from Sunday afternoon onwards.   More >

What the papers say about pension reform

This weekend, the members of the two major trade unions, the FNV and the CNV, voted in favour of reforms to the Dutch pension system, after nine years of negotiation. What do the papers have to say about this ostensible breakthrough? Most are cautiously optimistic that the current agreement could be the basis of a future proof pension system, while they also agree that there is still a lot of work to do before the parties at the table can reach an iron-clad agreement. Martine Wolzak in the Financieele Dagblad noted that the relief shown by politicians showed how fragile the pension agreement still is. They remind us, she wrote, that there are still a number of issues that have to be discussed and resolved by a steering group, and several of the groups involved have demanded unanimity from all the parties in the group before they greenlight the changes. ‘In short, there is a major risk that the negotiations will simply move from social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees and the government’s social and economic policy advisory body SER negotiating table to that of the steering group,’ she said. Realism The NRC wrote in an editorial that FNV voters deserved praise for their realism. ‘Of course some of them would prefer to see the retirement age return to 65, a more generous policy for early retirees and guarantees for higher pay-outs, but the reality is a lot more complex than those dreams,’ the paper said. The paper also noted that the negotiations are not quite over yet. It responded to FNV trade union head Han Busker’s promise to make the pension system more fair, by saying that ‘the rest can hold him to that, and keep reminding him that “more fair” doesn’t just mean guaranteeing current rights and responsibilities for years to come.’ The Volkskrant featured an analysis by Robert Giebels, who noted the low voter turnout of 37% for the FNV and 15% of the CNV members. ‘All in all, 320,000 yes voters decided the pensions for millions of Dutch people now and in the future,’ he said. Complex The writer noted that while the heavy majority vote (over 75% for FNV members and 80% for CNV members) leaves little room for doubt, it is difficult to say exactly what a voter means by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when it comes such a complex agreement. The member vote from the trade unions is just the first hurdle for a pension system that is fit for purpose in the the current labour market and demographic trends, Giebels said Trouw praised the union members for looking beyond the self-interest of the elderly. ‘The negotiating parties have every right to be proud of this surprisingly strong affirmative vote. There is a broad support base among trade union members for a more sustainable pension agreement,' the paper said in an editorial. Consensus The paper said it was good that politicians had was broadly acknowledged that the raising of the pension age was approached too rigidly, something the trade unions have fought long and hard over. ‘The Dutch consensus model has shown itself at its best. Public interest has prevailed over self interest,’ the paper said. The Telegraaf said the cabinet had done an excellent job with the agreement, singling out minister Wouter Koolmees for praise while commenting he had been lucky with a number of financial windfalls that will enable the government to freeze the retirement age. The paper added that the agreement is largely a package of sub-agreements that will form the outline of the new system, with the upcoming negotiations hopefully filling in the blanks. ‘Those won’t be easy, but the start of the renovation is promising,' the Telegraaf said.  More >