Netherlands

At the beginning of February we reported on the militant strike of the cleaners in the Netherlands. Now, after a long drawn out battle, they have won most of their demands, setting a good precedent for the rest of the Dutch labour movement.

In the Netherlands there is a very militant cleaners’ strike that has been going on for more than a month. This is not the first time; in 2010 they were out on strike for nine weeks, the longest strike in the Netherlands since the 1930s. There are lessons in this for the whole labour movement.

About 15,000 Dutch students demonstrated last Friday in The Hague against the cuts in higher education. This was the first big protest against Mark Rutte’s new right-wing government, and the biggest student demonstration since 1988.

The Netherlands has been further destabilised by the impact of the world crisis of capitalism. An already fragmented political set up saw even more fragmentation in last week’s elections. There is huge volatility in Dutch society, as the major parties bend to the needs of capital. Whatever coalition is formed will be called on to implement harsh cuts. The Dutch working class will not allow their hard fought for gains to be taken away without a fight.

The Dutch coalition has fallen under the growing pressure of the economic crisis. What sparked it off was pressure from NATO to extend the stay of Dutch troops in Afghanistan, but it clearly highlights the growing class divide in Dutch society.

The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.

We are proud to announce the International Marxist Tendency’s weblog for the Netherlands: Vonk. Vonk will publish articles in the Dutch language, offering a Marxist analysis about the situation in the Netherlands.

The situation in the Netherlands has dramatically changed in the recent period. From the period of “consensus” politics we now have a very polarised situation, with an aggressive ruling class facing a growingly militant working class. In these conditions the Socialist Party has emerged as a sizeable force to the left of the Labour Party.

The recent local elections in the Netherlands revealed a significant shift to the left taking place in Dutch society. This confirms what we said in the past, that the temporary rise of the Fortuyn list would be followed by an equally sharp shift to the left. The Netherlands is not immune from the developing class struggle on a world level.

The reaction of the media and the politicians to the massive “no” votes against the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands reveals the nature of our “elites”. However, all the propaganda was to no avail. A few days after the “non” vote in France, the same thing happened in the Netherlands.

Last Saturday March 19, in Brussels, three demonstrations were gathered in one huge wave of opposition to the plans of renewed militarism, increased deregulation, the dismantling of the social security system, increased job insecurity and other plans of the European Union. At the front of the demonstration marched the youth, followed by the heavy battalions of the working class and then the social movements.

Up until recently the Netherlands had served as a model of social and racial harmony to the rest of the world, a country to emulate or to learn from. This has radically changed with rapid shifts in the fortunes of the main political parties and, more importantly, huge mobilisations of the Dutch working class. Erik Demeester explains how and why.

On Saturday, October 2, Amsterdam saw what is possibly the biggest trade union demonstration in the history of the Netherlands. The workers were protesting against the government’s austerity package.

The Netherlands used to be the most politically boring country in Europe. It was dominated by extreme "political correctness", the very existence of problems was denied and there was a suffocating culture of "consensus". After the killing in May of Pim Fortuyn, the flamboyant far-right demagogue, the Dutch people have woken up to a completely new country.