The number of protests against the rising cost of living in European countries is increasing.
Among the main demands of protesters from various sectors, from France to Greece, are demands for higher wages, improved working and retirement conditions, and easier access to public services.
In the face of the rising cost of living in European countries, an increasing number of protests are organized with demands such as salary increases, improvement of working and retirement conditions, and easier access to public services.
Protests and various celebrations are held in many parts of Europe on May 1, Labor and Solidarity Day.
In recent years, European countries have attracted attention with the increase in such social movements.
In this sense, Brussels, the capital of the European Union (EU), hosted the actions of thousands of citizens from many member countries for a long time.
Covid-19 epidemic measures, heavy workload of health workers, protests against climate change were carried to the streets of Brussels by tens of thousands of people from across Europe.
More recently, the focus of European protests has shifted to countries’ own capitals, with demands for higher wages and improved living conditions in the face of rising cost of living.
For this reason, Brussels witnesses the protests of employees from many sectors, from education to security, in Belgium.
Teachers, police, firefighters, train and airline workers frequently resorted to strikes and protests to improve wages, working and retirement conditions in Belgium.
One of the first countries that come to mind in Europe when the protests are considered is France.
There are 8 main trade union organizations representing workers in France.
Gregory Leduc, Federal Secretary of Health Services of the FO-Sante Union, evaluated the important actions in the country and their reasons.
Pointing out that the culture of protest has been entrenched in the French throughout history, especially since the French Revolution in 1789, Leduc drew attention to the fact that many laws have been changed in the country in recent years as a result of the protests of the citizens.
Leduc said that despite the government’s desire to harmonize the civil servants’ pension system with the private sector in 1995, this practice was delayed after the French took to the streets many times, and high school and university students and unions took to the streets in 2006. He said that the law passed by the parliament has not entered into force.
Pointing out that the demonstrations have increased since French President Emmanuel Macron took office, Leduc referred to the Yellow Vests movement that started in 2018.
Leduc stated that there were more than 3 million participants in the protests against the pension reform, which increased the retirement age to 64, and that this number of people had not taken to the streets since 1995.
The French trade unionist noted that among the main demands in the protests in the country were a salary increase and easier access to public services.
Due to the unusually high inflation in Germany and the demands for higher wages and improved working conditions in order to balance the rising cost of living of the workers, it was noteworthy that many workers in many sectors went on strike at various times this year at the call of the unions.
While an agreement was reached between the unions and employers after the work stoppages in some sectors in the country, the strikes are expected to continue due to the failure to reach an agreement in collective agreements in some other branches.
United Service Industry Union (Verdi), one of Germany’s largest unions, called on its members working at the German Post Office (Deutsche Post and DHL) to strike a warning on January 19-20 and February 6-7. Verdi union, which put pressure on employers with warning strikes, achieved an average wage increase of 11.5 percent for 160,000 employees on March 11 as a result of collective bargaining negotiations.
Since the beginning of 2023, employees in various branches at airports in the country have gone on strike many times.
As a result of the strike of ground staff at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport on January 25, which led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and the strike, on February 7, the Verdi union agreed with employers to increase wages by 12 percent to 19.5 percent for employees.
Verdi President Frank Werneke, pointing to the strikes held in the country in recent months, said, “For example, the participation of so many employees in the public sector, postal company, day care centers, social institutions, energy companies, airports, local transportation companies and the maintenance sector shows that we are right in our demands. ” said.
Werneke emphasized that after the 3 years of the Covid-19 epidemic and especially the increase in inflation triggered by Russia’s war against Ukraine, the employees demanded appreciation for their work during the crisis and demanded serious wage increases:
“Companies must also contribute to overcoming the crisis by not rejecting demands for more money and better working conditions. Where they didn’t realize this or completely rejected collective bargaining, we increased the pressure, in part, with large-scale strikes, and that way we were able to make some very good collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining negotiations are still ongoing elsewhere and further strikes can be expected.”
In the UK, which is facing the highest inflation rate in the last 41 years and the highest food inflation in the last 45 years, there has been an increase in the protests in the second half of last year, where strikes and demands for raises have been voiced.
The primary demand of employees from many sectors who protest the government’s proposed salary rates, personal rights and working conditions is that the proposed raise rates be above inflation, which exceeds 10 percent.
Especially since the beginning of the year, many sectors have been expressing their demands by resorting to massive strikes and work stoppages. In February and March, while the biggest job layoffs the UK has seen in recent years were carried out, there are important occupational groups for the country such as ambulance driver, doctor, nurse, train mechanic.
In the country, where there has been a great transportation chaos after the railway workers stopped working for 4 days in the last two months, the union of the nurses, which decided to strike on May 2, was brought to court by the Minister of Health, Steve Barclay, on the grounds that it had been on strike for 6 months.
While the strikes of nurses, which numbered 300 thousand, and general practitioners, which amounted to 70 thousand, caused concerns about the disruption of health services, the strike of the passport office workers, whose number was expressed as only 1000, caused many travels to be interrupted.
Greece faced the problem of rising cost of living in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and the Ukraine war.
The increase in food and gasoline prices has deeply affected many sectors. The increase in the cost of living was expressed in the actions taken by almost all sectors.
One of the sectors with the most action in the country was health. Demands such as the problems that emerged after the epidemic, the lack of personnel in the sector, and the allocation of more budget to the health sector were expressed in dozens of actions taken by the health personnel in the last year.
In March in Greece, strikes were held one after another in the transport sector.
The train accident, which took place as a result of the collision of two trains moving in opposite directions on the same rail line on the night of February 28 in the Tempi region, 26 kilometers from the city of Larisa, in which 57 people lost their lives, revealed the lack of infrastructure and security systems on the railways.
The authorities were accused of negligence by pointing out the strikes and actions carried out by the sector employees before the accident to draw attention to these problems and the lack of personnel.
As a reaction, many actions took place throughout March in all public transportation sectors, especially railways.
Bus and trolleybus employees also went to action many times in April, demanding that security measures be taken in all transportation branches and changing the vehicles used in transportation.
Retirees, on the other hand, protested on April 4, drawing attention to the cost of living in the country, demanding a raise in their salaries.
Before the general elections on 21 May, the government increased the minimum wage from 713 euros to 780 euros, effective from 1 April 2023, in response to the rising cost of living. The minimum wage, which was 650 Euros in February 2019, has increased by 130 Euros in approximately 4 years.
On the other hand, the unemployment benefit of approximately 200 thousand people was increased from 438 Euros to 479 Euros on April 1.
Unions in Spain are celebrating this May 1 Labor and Solidarity Day for workers whose biggest problem is “filling the shopping cart, paying the high bills and trying to meet the rent or loan debt” as a result of high inflation, rising prices and reduced purchasing power. increased” demanded.
The country’s two largest labor unions, the General Union of Employees (UGT) and the Confederation of Trade Unions (CCOO), are holding demonstrations with the slogan of “cutting prices, increasing wages and sharing profits”.
According to the latest official data in Spain, as of March 2023, 3 million 127 thousand 999 (13.27 percent) are unemployed in the country.
The price of a pack of cigarettes in Belgium will be 10 euros
The Belgian government has determined the road map for the goal of a smoke-free generation.
The price of a pack of cigarettes will increase to 10 euros next year.
The following items were included in the road map announced by Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke for the goal of a smoke-free generation:
Starting from 2025, cigarette and e-cigarette products will not be visibly displayed in stores and large supermarkets. These items will be stored in a separate room or cabinet in the store.
Temporary sales points will also disappear. Cigarettes will no longer be sold at festivals.
Starting from 2025, smoking will be banned in theme parks, zoos, children’s farms, playgrounds and sports fields.
A smoking ban will be imposed within a 10-meter area at the entrances of health, care, educational institutions and libraries. .
There will continue to be designated smoking areas in restaurants and bars.
Banning disposable e-cigarette products, which are popular among young people, may also be on the agenda.
There will be stricter controls on cigarette and advertising sales. Businesses that do not comply with the rules will be closed for a month.
Belgium needs to get approval from the European Union to implement these bans. However, Minister Vandenbroucke thinks that the permit will be obtained in the near future.
Rising rents in the Netherlands led citizens to Belgium
The number of citizens moving to Belgium is increasing every year. Over the past year, many middle-income families have moved to Belgium due to low rents.
The lack of rental housing supply in the Netherlands in recent years has caused rents to increase even more. On the other hand, citizens living in the south of the country find the solution by moving to Belgium. Although it is not known exactly how many families have moved, it is estimated that the number has approached 250 thousand in recent years.
According to an interview conducted by the producers of the Nieuws en Co program broadcast on NPO radio with real estate agents in Belgium’s Flemish region, 80 percent of those looking for rental housing in the region are Dutch.
Daniel Buschman, head of the Flemish Confederation of Real Estate Professionals (CIB) and also a real estate agent, said that while wealthy Dutch usually crossed the border to buy a house, middle-class citizens are now trying to move to the area as well.
Rents are lower than in the Netherlands
Especially the low rental prices in Belgium are the first reason why the Dutch want to move to this country. It is possible to rent a detached house with a garden or a large apartment for less than in the Netherlands.
“In Belgium you can rent detached houses for less than 1500 euros. I’ve heard that in the Netherlands tenants pay 30 to 40 percent more for this type of house,” Buschman said. He uses the expression.
The Dutch generally prefer areas close to the border to move. The regions most sought after for rental homes are the cities of Limburg and Antwerpen and its environs.
Excess demand causes rents to rise
The increase in the number of people moving to Belgium from the Netherlands causes the rental prices in this country to increase. It is stated that rents in the Limburg region have increased by 5 to 7 percent in the past year.
Prices in Belgium will again rise sharply this year, according to unpublished figures from the CIB. The annual increase, which was around 1.5 percent on average before, is expected to increase to 6 percent this year.
The fall of the government in the Netherlands will negatively affect the pocket of the citizen
Although the fall of the government brings early elections to the agenda, there is another issue that is more important than this. And that is that the aid that millions of people expect will not be provided.
Last week, the failure to reach agreement among coalition partners on immigration policy led to the fall of the government. In an article in the Trouw newspaper, it was pointed out that this situation would affect the income of millions of people and cause poverty to increase in the country.
According to the newspaper’s report, with the fall of the government, issues such as additional energy assistance and increased health benefits, which were put into effect temporarily, have been shelved for now. It was emphasized in the news that this situation indicates that poverty in the country will increase and that it will affect millions of low-income individuals.
In the news, the warnings of experts that the minimum wage and social allowances should be increased were reminded.
Low-income citizens will experience a reduction of 100 to 500 euros per month in their monthly income, according to a recent finding by the Social Minimum Commission, which was commissioned by the House of Representatives and working on the livelihood guarantee in the Netherlands. Especially families with children will be in a more difficult situation.
The fact that the current interim government does not have the power to decide on necessary arrangements, such as a new additional energy allowance, will worsen the situation. According to the newspaper, approximately 1 million people will be in a difficult situation.
In the news, it was noted that the interim government responded positively to the municipality’s call for an increase in poverty, but the situation still remains uncertain as to how to find a solution.
Record increase in real estate value of residences in the Netherlands
The average property value of residences (WOZ-waarde) increased by approximately 16.4 percent compared to last year. This figure is said to be the highest increase ever seen.
According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the real estate value (WOZ) of residences increased by a record high compared to last year. At the beginning of 2022, the average real estate value increased by approximately 16.4 percent compared to the previous year and reached 369,000 euros. It was stated that the highest increase was realized in the municipality of Lelystad with 26.3 percent. In this region, the WOZ value rose to 327,000 euros.
Among the four major cities, the city with the highest average WOZ increase was Amsterdam with 19.1 percent. The average real estate value in the capital increased to 517,000 euros. This city was followed by Utrecht with an increase of 17.6 percent. The average property value in Utrecht was 461,000 euros.
On a state basis, the region with the highest increase in average real estate value was Flevoland. Residential real estate values in this region increased by 19.2 percent to 348,000 euros.
In the state of Noord-Holland, the real estate value of residences rose to 461,000 euros, in the state of Groningen it was 268,000 euros.
When looking at cities, the highest increase was seen in the municipality of Blomendaal. The real estate value within the boundaries of this municipality has increased to 932.000 euros. The lowest WOZ-waarde increase across the Netherlands was seen in Pekela municipality. The value of residential real estate in this municipality has increased to 194,000 euros.
The WOZ-waarde price, determined by the municipality, also determines how much tax should be paid for the housing.
Additional energy aid will be provided to low-income people in the Netherlands this year
Just like last year, 1300 euros additional energy support will be given to low-income citizens this year. Additional assistance will be given to some students this year.
Low-income people with social minimum wage or just above it will be able to receive 1300 euros of additional energy support this year. In addition, students who live separately from their families and receive additional scholarships will be paid 400 euros for the first time this year.
This year, the Cabinet decided to help low-income citizens with energy costs. Although the municipalities stated in a statement in March that they did not want to distribute this aid on the grounds that it creates additional workload and additional expense to the personnel, the initiatives of Poverty Policy Minister Carola Schouten yielded results. This year, additional energy aid will be distributed through municipalities.
1300 euro per household
The additional energy assistance of 1300 euros to be paid per household does not affect the other allowances received by the households. This year, the municipalities will decide who can benefit from this aid, and while doing this, they will look at the 2022 income of the household. In other words, if the income of the households that received additional energy assistance increased last year, they will not be able to receive assistance this year.
It is not yet clear when additional energy aid applications can be made. In the meantime, it is stated that municipalities, which have already paid 500 euros with the permission of the government, will also pay the remaining 800 euros this year.
400 euro aid to students
Additional energy assistance will be provided for some students this year. According to the sources of the Ministry, this year, a one-time energy aid of 400 euros will be given to the children of low-income families who live separately from their families, have to receive additional scholarships, and have low income. Additional aid will be distributed through Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO).
Chip blow from USA and Netherlands to China
The United States and the Netherlands are increasing their chip restrictions as part of their ongoing efforts to prevent their technologies from being used to strengthen China’s military.
While the Dutch are planning to block some equipment from national champion ASML and other companies, the US is expected to go a step further and withhold more Dutch equipment from certain Chinese factories. The US In October, on national security grounds, American companies such as Lam Research and Applied Materials exported chips to China. China imposed export restrictions on shipments of production tools and lobbied other countries with key suppliers to impose similar restrictions.Chinese Embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said the US has “deliberately blockaded and obstructed Chinese companies, forcibly relocated industries, and segregated.” He denounced this move, stating that China is “pressing for the sake of peace” and said that China will “follow developments closely and strictly protect its own interests”.
Japan, home to chip equipment manufacturers Nikon Corp and Tokyo Electron Ltd, adopted rules to restrict the export of 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which will come into effect on July 23. The Dutch government announced on Friday that ASML’s second-best product line was deep plans to announce new regulations requiring licensing for the top tier of ultra violet (DUV) semiconductor equipment.
Extreme ultraviolet “EUV” lithography machines, ASML’s most sophisticated machines, are already restricted and have never been shipped to China. ASML said in March that it expects Dutch regulations to affect the TWINSCAN NXT:2000i and its more sophisticated models. However, the company’s TWINSCAN NXT:1980Di Older DUV models, such as the navy model, may also be kept out of about six facilities in China by the US.
These facilities are expected to be defined in a new US rule that would allow the US to restrict foreign equipment, even a small percentage of which is US part, from entering these facilities, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person in question is not authorized to speak publicly. Sources said the new Dutch regulations will not come into effect immediately, with one expecting the effective date to be in September, two months after they were issued. He said the planned US rule would require licenses to export equipment to about half a dozen Chinese facilities, including a factory operated by China’s largest chipmaker SMIC. The person in question said that licenses to ship equipment to these facilities would likely be denied. The US rule is expected to apply to ASML, the world’s leading chip equipment manufacturer and the Netherlands’ largest company, because its systems contain US parts and components.US regulations It’s not unusual for him to change bids before clarification, so both timing and constraints are subject to change.
The announced plan reflects the thoughts at the end of June. According to sources, the US is expected to bring further updates in July to its comprehensive rules from October. ASML is Europe’s largest chip equipment company due to its dominance in lithography, one of the key steps in the computer chip manufacturing process. Other companies that could be affected include atomic layer deposition firm ASM International.
In the Netherlands, the tax reduction in fuel is removed: Gasoline will exceed 2 euros again
The tax reduction applied by the government on fuel ends in July. In particular, the price of gasoline will exceed the psychological limit of 2 euros.
Due to the increased inflation and energy costs last year, the tax reduction applied to fuel is removed as of 1 July. This situation will especially affect vehicle owners and will direct drivers to cross-border fuel tourism.
According to UnitedConsumers data, the recommended selling price of a liter of gasoline today is 1.98 euros, and a liter of diesel is 1.68 euros. From another point of view, as of this weekend, the price of gasoline will exceed 2 euros, which is called the breaking point.
According to UnitedConsumers representative Paul van Selms, this will lead to an increase in fuel tourism in particular. Van Selms noted that the difference between now and July prices is tens of cents. “I think a lot of people will want to refuel ‘cheaper’ by the end of this week.” used expression.
Stating that some stations across the country are already storing extra fuel due to this density that will occur at gas stations, Van Selms said, “Still, there is a possibility that some stations will run out of fuel. Because it can take two days for a supplier to arrive,” he said.
How will the 1st of July decisions affect us in the Netherlands?
The minimum wage, AOW, fuel tax, child benefit changes as of 1 July. How will all these changes affect your pocket?
A lot of things change with new laws and regulations every July. How will these regulations affect your wallet? Here are the changes coming into effect next month, from less child allowance to higher fuel tax…
Minimum wage rises
From 1 July, the monthly salaries of minimum wage workers will increase by about 2 percent (36 euros on average). The net salary will increase from 1857.73 euros to 1894 euros.
For those under the age of 21, the increase will be less. Based on a 40-hour work week, a 20-year-old’s hourly salary will increase from 8.93 euros to 9.21 euros, and for a 16-year-old from 3.85 euros to 3.98 euros.
Accordingly, the net salary will be 1596 euros for 20-year-olds, 1197 euros for 19-year-olds, 997.50 euros for 18-year-olds, 788.05 euros for 17-year-olds, and 688.30 euros for 16-year-olds.
AOW and allowances increase
With the increase in the minimum wage, the amount of AOW and other allowances increases. The AOW amount for single residents will be 1378.98 euros. The net salary per person for couples will increase to 939.24 euros.
Child benefit is declining
Child benefits (Kinderbijslag), paid quarterly, will be deducted based on the consumer price index. There will be a 3% reduction in child benefit in the coming quarters.
Effective from October, the third quarter of the year; Child benefit paid for children up to the age of 6 will decrease by 8.06 euros to 261.70 euros. Child benefit paid to families for children aged 6 to 11 years will decrease by 9.97 euros to 317.77 euros, and for children aged 12 to 18 years old, the amount paid will decrease by 11.52 euros to 373.85 euros.
Rent increase in social housing
Starting from July, the rents of social housing can be increased by a maximum of 3.1 percent. If your rent is less than 300 euros (without additional costs), your landlord can increase your rent by a maximum of 25 euros. The 4.1 percent rent increase determined in January for private sector residences will remain the same.
Telecom companies will raise
Telecom companies will increase their wages depending on inflation. Ziggo announced that it will increase package prices by 8.5 percent from 1 July. KPN increased its package prices by 6.4 percent. T-Mobile made the inflation adjustment in prices in January and increased its prices by 8.6 percent.
Single-use plastics will be charged
All businesses, from gas stations to grocery stores and kiosks, will start charging additional fees for single-use plastic cups and containers to increase sustainability. The government recommended 25 cents for glasses, 50 cents for food containers, and 5 cents for prepackaged small servings of fruit, vegetables, nuts and gravy, for example. However, each business will determine how much additional fees will be charged. Apart from this, businesses also need to offer an alternative to support recycling. For example, containers that have a deposit on them and can be used repeatedly can be used.
Fuel taxes increase
The fuel tax was temporarily lowered last year due to high energy prices. From July 1, 2023, the tariff will gradually begin to increase. The tax amount for a liter of gasoline will increase from 65 cents to 79 cents, and for a liter of diesel from 42 cents to 52 cents.
Tax Office raises interest rate
The tax office raises interest rates from 4 percent to 6 percent as of July 1. Those who owe the tax office will have to pay more interest, for example on income tax.
Chocolate will be even more expensive in 2024
Cocoa prices have skyrocketed and are taking chocolate prices with them.
So far this year, cocoa futures prices have risen nearly 21 percent.
As is often the case, higher prices are due to demand exceeding supply. This season, the cocoa crop is scant, possibly due to diseases and heavy rains.
And for next season, forecasters expect another shortfall due to El Niño, a natural phenomenon in the tropical Pacific Ocean that often brings warmer global temperatures.
Rabobank analyst Paul Joules, who focuses on the cocoa and dairy products markets, states that demand, meanwhile, remains strong, especially in Europe and Asia.
According to the monthly report of the International Cocoa Organization for last April, ‘Compared to the 2021/22 cocoa year, the 2022/23 season is heading towards a supply deficit due to reduced production.’
The price hike could provide some financial relief to poor cocoa farmers.
Tony’s Chocolonely, an Amsterdam-based chocolate company that aims to reduce exploitation in the cocoa supply chain, is happy with the rise in prices.
“We are very happy that cocoa prices are going up,” says Pascal Baltussen, Tony’s CEO. ‘Cocoa prices were too low for West African cocoa farmers to make a living.’
Cocoa futures are used to determine wages paid to cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana. With prices rising in the futures market, we ‘hope that growers’ income will be positively affected.’
Like other chocolatiers, Tony’s has been hit by rising prices not just for cocoa, but for sugar as well.
Earlier this year, the company increased its US prices for retailers by nearly 8 percent for the first time since it entered the US market in 2015. Other companies have also raised prices.
And the rise in the cost of cocoa means there could be further increases in the price of chocolate.
Cocoa contracts are long-term, so higher prices are likely not yet passed on to consumers.
“I don’t think consumers have seen the full impact yet,” says Joules. Once the new contracts come into effect, ‘that’s when we’ll see the full price increase for consumers.’
Any increase will add to the already high retail prices of chocolate. From the beginning of the year to April 29, chocolate prices increased by an average of 14.5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to NIQ data that tracks US retail sales.
Housing prices in the Netherlands continue to fall
Housing prices have been falling in the last four months.
Prices of houses for sale in May decreased by 6 percent on average compared to the same period of the previous year.
According to the data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the rate of decrease in house prices for sale in May is higher than the previous month. In April, homes for sale were 4.4 percent cheaper than in the same month of the previous year. The average price of a house was around 403.913 euros last month.
Since August 2022 in the Netherlands, house prices for sale have been falling almost every month. This is partly due to rising mortgage rates. This is why home buyers can get less loans.
Housing sales fell
The number of houses whose owners change is also decreasing. According to the data obtained, 15,099 houses were sold last month. This represents a decrease of more than 4 percent compared to the previous year. In the first five months of 2023, almost 10 percent less houses were sold compared to the same period of the previous year.