Dutch youth fight cutbacks
Story and photos by Gina Rogers
THE HAGUE — The Netherlands government's plans to make youth pay for the recession by slashing f600 million (about $510 million) from student funds and abolishing youth unemployment benefits was met with spirited opposition when 30,000 young people from around the country protested in the Hague last month.
When the young people marched on Parliament on May 8, more than 100 riot police took the offensive with water, cannons and dogs, arresting 48 people, injuring 60 (mostly through dog bites) and dispersing the demonstration after two hours' confrontation.
Currently high school and university students receive f200 per month if they live at home and f563 if they don't. The living away from home allowance is less than half of unemployment benefits. Christine Kersten from the student union, LSVB, told Green Left Weekly that existing funds are a fraction of what students need, since school and university fees are f2050 per year and 70% of parents don't contribute the required support funds. "Many students are already in debt, and more than half of Dutch tertiary students work part time to subsidise their studies. Any future cuts would result in many students abandoning higher education."
Unemployed youth and young workers are also under attack from recent government proposals to abolish under-21 unemployment benefits, reduce 21-27 year olds' benefits from f1050-1260 to f800 per month and to reduce low-income renters' subsidies.