Unemployment benefit extension debate heats up in coalition
The coalition parties have reached a deadlock in the debate on the extension of the duration of unemployment benefits. The VVD is blocking the unions' desired repair of the benefit, while the PvdA wants to fulfill the agreement with the unions, even if only to avoid a confrontation, sources within the coalition confirmed to the Volkskrant. In the social agreement made in 2013, employers and unions agreed to shorten the maximum period for unemployment benefits to two years, from the current three years ad two months for people who worked for 40 years. They agreed that they themselves would repair the gradual restriction through collective bargaining agreements. The cabinet promised that these agreements would then be imposed on all sectors. The coalition is now stuck on whether or not to meet these agreements, according to the Volkskrant. The trade unions and employers want to regulate the third unemployment year through a government agency such as the benefits agency UWV or the Social Insurance Bank. The PvdA is willing to cooperate, the VVD is not. Months long behind the scenes negotiations have not achieved anything so far. With the implementation date of this measure only being a few months away, time is running out. The gradual shortening of the unemployment benefit period is set to start in January 2016. Union FNV told the Volkskrant that they have already made agreements on the repair in 228 collective bargaining agreements for 2.5 million employees. These agreements must now be met, and according to FNV chairman Ton Heerts, the government has no choice. "(VVD Prime Minister Mark, ed.) Rutte promised it in the social agreement. He must keep that promise."