Dutch jobs to go as Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp plan merger

Dutch jobs to go as Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp plan merger

Europe's second-largest flat steel business is to be formed through the 50:50 merger of Mumbai-based Tata Steel´s Dutch and British operations with those of German steel major ThyssenKrupp. The two companies have signed a memorandom of understanding after nearly a year of negotiations, the companies said in a statement issued on Wednesday. The combine's 'lean headquarters operations' will be located in Amsterdam. The new combine, which will have a global workforce of 48,000 expects to cut 4,000 jobs in Europe, 2,000 in production and 2,000 in administration. The job cuts will be split evenly between the two companies. Tata Steel Nederland employs 11,000 people, of whom 9,000 are based in IJmuiden. It is unclear how many Dutch jobs will go, but the FNV trade union expects the bulk of the Tata Steel jobs will go in the Netherlands. 'The British operation has already been slimmed down, so most will go in IJmuiden,' FNV official Aad in 't Veld told NOS. The statement said the proposed joint venture -Thyssenkrupp Tata Steel - would be focused on quality and technology leadership, and the supply of premium and differentiated products to customers, with annual shipments of about 21 million tonnes of flat steel products. The new entity will rival Europe’s top producer, ArcelorMittal. The joint venture would have annual turnover of about €15bn and the deal is expected to be finalised in 2018. The new company includes the former Hoogovens plant in IJmuiden which was merged with British Steel to create Corus in 1999. At its formation, Corus was the largest steel maker in Europe and the third-largest in the world. Tata acquired the Anglo-Dutch steel maker in 2007. The Tata Steel central works council said on Wednesday afternoon it had been shocked by the news. 'The job losses aside, we really can't imagine merging with a company that says openly it sees no future in steel,' chairman Frits van Wieringen told broadcaster NOS. 'Without the works council approval, there will be no merger.'  More >

Plastic recycling isn't working: report

--Wages can go up, but not in all sectors, says Dutch employers’ chief   Plastic recycling initiatives are doing little for the environment, according to a report published on Wednesday. The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Analysis has analysed the effects of Dutch recycling processes, and concludes they result in low-grade plastic with limited uses, saving the country just 0.15% in equivalent carbon emissions. Some materials like films – it adds – are simply burned, as they aren’t suitable to recycle. So, says the report ‘The plastics circular economy: from raw material to waste’, local areas should spend more on processes to select better quality plastic for reprocessing. More plastic than fish There is international concern about the increasing use of plastic and pollution, particularly in the water chain. By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean, according to a recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The Dutch research, commissioned by the infrastructure, environment and finance ministries, suggests that the material now makes up 90% of packaging, and when people area charged for their waste, many put it in the compost. But even bioplastics, made from things other than oil, generally don’t break down naturally. ‘Recycling is not a solution to litter and the plastic soup,’ the report adds. Key time The report suggests more international rules limiting the use of the material in things like cosmetics, better filtering of groundwater, and a more extensive deposit system so customers return packaging to stores. It echoes concerns expressed by environment agencies and waste firms in recent months that the ‘Plastic Heroes’ recycling system – which reportedly costs €150 million a year – is anything but heroic. The report comes at a key time when a new coalition is trying to finalise its manifesto, with major differences on the environment between the four parties involved.  More >

His or miss? Hema's gender neutral clothes

--Wages can go up, but not in all sectors, says Dutch employers’ chief Dutch retailer Hema is going to take ‘his’ and ‘hers’ labelling off children’s clothing and packaging, reports the Volkskrant on Wednesday. It follows the example of British retailer John Lewis, which removed gender labelling from clothing for girls and boys earlier this month and merged the departments. Hema has put all children’s clothes together in 300 of its 700 stores, according to the paper, and labelling will change from 2018. Both stores have apparently responded to an international debate around the presentation of clothing for boys and girls. Clark’s shoes eventually withdrew a school line called ‘Dolly Babe’ – where the male equivalent was named ‘Leader’ – after accusations of sexism and criticism, including from Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. It is almost beyond belief that in 2017 a major company could think this is in any way acceptable. Shows what we are still up against. https://t.co/3C7Nop8o1E — Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 13, 2017 Smiles for girls? British supermarket Morrisons has also been criticised for a range of tops emblazoned ‘little girl, big smiles’ versus ‘little man, big ideas’. A year ago Gap Kids provoked anger for a British advert in which a boy was dubbed ‘the little scholar’ and a girl ‘the social butterfly’ – although some observers note it has apparently become more sensitive in its marketing this year, labelling its wider-fitting boys’ size ‘husky’. Hema’s change of heart is apparently partly due to a 10-year-old who sent it a Facebook message two years ago asking for a better range of underwear than pink hearts forever. Tougher stuff ‘We are seeing a growing demand for tougher girlswear,’ Trevor Perren, director of apparel at HEMA, told the Volkskrant. ‘You will still see pink dresses at Hema. But we will add tougher girlswear too.’ Israeli neuroscientist Daphna Joel, who has debunked the idea of a ‘male’ and ‘female’ brain structure, added to the paper that this was ‘a big step towards a world in which our genitals no longer dictate how we must behave.’ John Lewis did get a backlash, with some wags dubbing it ‘Joan Lewis’ – it remains to be seen whether Hema will be nicknamed Haara.  More >

Too many women sign up for pee protest

Wages can go up, but not in all sectors, says Dutch employers’ chief A protest in Amsterdam about the lack of female public toilet facilities, prompted by a judge telling a woman she should have used a men's urinal, has been cancelled - because too many women want to take part. Cathelijne Hornstra put out a call on Facebook for women to come to Leidseplein in the city centre and use the urinal to show how bizarre the judge's comments are. So far, 1,100 women said they would attend the protest and and another 7,900 said they are interested in attending. 'The overwhelming interest means we have grown too big,' Hornstra said. 'We can't fit all the women who said they would come on that one spot.' Now women are being urged to carry out mini protests at urinals throughout the city and upload photos to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #wildplassen. On Monday a judge in Amsterdam told a woman he fined €90 for peeing in public that she could have used a men's urinal. ‘It would not be pleasant but it can be done,’ the male judge said. The judge went on to say that while there are few public toilets for women in Amsterdam, there was no real need to build more. In central Amsterdam there are 35 public urinals for men and just four public toilets for women, according to the Parool. In de mailbox: 'Zo ziet er het dan uit een vrouw in een urinoir!!' Waarvan akte. pic.twitter.com/aXx4DGGRjU — Josien Wolthuizen (@wolthuizen) September 18, 2017 Rembrandt van Rijn's ode aan de wildplassende vrouw (uit 1631) #wildplassen #boete pic.twitter.com/kLWgYQTTlb — Claire Oudorp (@ClaireOudorp) September 18, 2017   More >

Oldest Dutch skeleton on show in Arnhem

Oldest skeleton ever found in the Netherlands goes on show The oldest skeleton ever found in the Netherlands is going on show for the first time at the open air museum in Arnhem as part of an exhibition about the history of the Lowlands. The skeleton belongs to a 60 year-old woman who lived around 7,500 years ago and who had several children. It was dug up in 1997 during work on the Betuwe railway line and was named Trijntje, a play of words on the name Trijntje and treintje (train). Trijntje represents the first of the ten periods in the Canon van Nederland, a division of Dutch history which was  drawn up in 2006 to aid history education in schools. Historian Leendert Louwe Kooijmans told broadcaster NOS Trijntje’s bones are remarkably well-preserved. ‘In sand our bones turn to dust within a thousand years. But in bog and clay, where we found Trijntje, bones aren’t affected by oxygen. The more fragile bones are lost but her legs and skull have survived very well,’ he said. The museum has turned the Canon into an interactive exhibition highlighting the highs and lows of Dutch history with artifacts from all periods. Read more Ten key periods in Dutch history which made the Netherlands what it is today  More >