The Dutch protest in The Hague against the massive closure of prisons

(Video’s credits to Laura Zuffi)

25 April 2013 – The streets of The Hague city centre were crowded today when around 300 hundred people were marching protesting against the closures of more than 30 prisons in The Netherlands.

Abvakabo FNV is by far the largest Dutch Union in the public sector and fully supports the protestors today showing the main slogan “Stop de sloop van het gevangeniswezen” (stop the demolition of the prisons).

The requests were clear: “ we don’t want to have criminals on the streets, poor security in the prisons and thousands of workers left at home”, one of the protestors claimed while waving the flag of the Abvakabo FNV.

Fred Teeven, Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice, decided and openly claimed in March 2013 the closure of a large number of prisons, detention centres and psychiatric units in the Netherlands, and consequently the cut of 3,700 prison jobs, to save €340 millions in government spending.

In a moment of crisis some sectors need to be cut severely, but justice and security are two delicate issues that should not be touched. Abvakabo FNV members are worried, as well as the prisons’ staff, about the safety of the society. The Dutch Union reports that about 15000 convicts roam freely and that due to the shortages, jails are overcrowded and the staff to guard is not enough.

Garry Piggott, former correspondent for AFX News and US financial newspaper the Daily Deal, stated on DutchNews that: “this was merely an overture for the current government’s plans to put the prison service in the hands of private companies”.

The next move is still pending, will Mr Teeven close most of prisons and then sell the remaining ones to private buyers who can pay their workers how much they want? Or get some money off the government’s payroll and then follow many of his colleagues into the corporate sector?

One thing is sure, prison staff united in Abvakabo FNV, CNV Public and Juvox, wants Mr Teeven to withdraw his plans and consults with them. However, Teeven did not respond to this ultimatum and keeps going with his project of closure, lower wages and poorer working conditions.

Laura Zuffi.

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