Coal-fired power stations must close, but workers must not be left to rot: SP joins dockers’ action

13 April 2017

Coal-fired power stations must close, but workers must not be left to rot: SP joins dockers’ action

Foto: SP

Today the SP stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the dockers who serve the Hemweg power station in Amsterdam. The dockers and their union, the FNV, are demanding that attention be paid to their plight and that of many other Dutch workers and their families who depend on the coal-fired power station for their livelihoods. “Closure of the coal-fired power stations is a necessary step in the fight against climate change, but that’s no reason to leave the thousands of workers dependent on them to their fate,” argue SP Member of Parliament Sandra Beckerman and her colleague Cem Lacin.

Everyone agrees that the coal-fired power stations must close. The government is reserving a sum of money to compensate those affected by the closures, but what this means in practice is foreign shareholders, such as the Swedish energy corporation Vattenfall, which now owns the Hemweg power station. Little consideration has been given to the fact that thousands of workers in the Netherlands will be thrown out of work. What the SP wants to see is a substantial proportion of the money reserved to aid these people in returning to work.

“It’s absurd that the government only seems to have eyes for foreign corporate shareholders, yet forgets the many workers and their families who are likely to fall into difficulties,” says Beckerman. Lacin agrees. “The compensation money available for closure shouldn’t be allowed to disappear abroad,” he says. “The money should be put into a transition fund, from which retraining, support in finding another job, and social plans could be paid for.”

The closure of the coal-fired power stations will throw 2,800 people out of work. Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp accompanied his announcement of the closures with the promise of sustainable employment. The SP is calling not only for a green revolution but a social revolution, as the two MPs who attended today’s action made clear. “We must also invest in the workers who must give shape to the transformation towards a sustainable society,” they said. Both intend to put parliamentary questions on the matter to Minister Kamp.

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