Honorable Prime Minister,
In June 2015 I wrote you an open letter which was sent to several local media, but for reasons unknown was not published. However, as fate would have it, this might just be the right time to make my letter public.
Your speech on May 29th at the Congress of the political party you represent, I quote:
“Werkloos worden. Vreselijk als het gebeurd. Maar hoeveel mensen die hun baan verliezen hebben meteen het adres in hun hand van het UVW om een uitkering te vragen? Ik snap dat niet.”
“Unemployment, that’s a terrible thing to happen. But, how many people as soon as they lost their job, know immediately how to find the address of UWV [unemployment agency in Holland] to request an unemployment allowance? I just don’t get it.”
Mr. Rutte, please allow me the ‘liberty’ to state my case, when I did exactly as you suggested in your speech, approximately twenty months ago.
I’m a Dutch-Caribbean, lawful citizen and single mother, 57 years of age with two children who recently graduated as Masters Pedagogics Science and Bachelor Commercial Economics. We’ve been living in The Netherlands since August 2000, where I’ve worked legally and paid taxes as well.
After having worked for twelve years as an employee, in October 2012 I took up entrepreneurship and started my own business. The start-up time took longer than I had anticipated, reason for which I worked temporarily part-time as management assistant. How this came about is irrelevant for now.
In February 2014, I was notified that my part-time employment would be terminated. Prior the notification, I applied for vacancies in my field of work. I didn’t rush to the UWV, -as I should have- to apply for an allowance to which I was legally entitled. I sent countless applications to no avail and spent the few euros I had saved for a rainy day.
Mr. Prime Minister, I quote you further:
“Dan vind ik dat als dat gebeurd in jouw omgeving, je iemand best even mag bijsturen en zeggen: “Joh, die uitkering, als het echt niet lukt, dan komt die wel. Maar laten we eerst even kijken of jij niet gewoon weer door kan met werken. Laten we daar nou eens even voor zorgen.”
“If that happens to someone you know, you should encourage that person and say: “Hey, that allowance, will surely come around. But first, let’s see how we can keep you at work. Let’s just take care of that.”
Mr. Rutte, having the mindset and experience of an entrepreneur, I knew that stepping out of my comfort zone into my courage zone, meant to expect the unexpected and did exactly as you suggested. I rolled up my sleeves, got out in the streets and applied for a job at a student employment agency, as aircraft cleaner at Schiphol Airport. Read more here.
The job and the payment were both beneath my educational level and what I was used to. Random working hours with schedules that were cancelled a day ahead and high transportation cost, became demanding and exhausting. In the meantime the bills were piling up and after eight months, I finally decided to apply for the unemployment allowance to which I was entitled. It didn’t come around, I had to apply for it and on time!
Due to my extremely late application, the UWV, -as the rules dictated- fined me by withholding almost three months pay from my allowance. Those were tough times, but by faith, divine providence was made.
Concluding, I am grateful for the social services here in The Netherlands, however, at times they can be relentless and encourage unproductivity.
Every extra dime I earned working as an aircraft cleaner was subtracted by UWV from my small allowance. So financially, I made no progress.
After this occurrence, I was asked to submit my application activities of the past year. Most of the times my application activities exceeded the required minimum. On one occasion, however, I missed one activity during a certain period, because I had only submitted applications that required my CV and motivational letter.
Adding insult to injure, for four long months, 25% from my meager allowance, was withheld by UWV as a disciplinary measure, which led to strenuous situations once again.
My objection was turned down by UWV and I await outcome of my appeal.
Mr. Rutte, this was my experience as a law-abiding citizen living in The Netherlands.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.