Thursday, July 12, 2007

End of term

Fred on P-Town beach, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It is Thursday 12th July, the date of Fred’s end of year party at school. Like last year, I am traveling there by train, looking out across a grey and wet landscape, altogether depressing for this time of year. The difference with last year is that we had already had had some great summer weather and were going to get more, whereas it is already five weeks since those summer days down in Cornwall. The other difference being that they have decided to have the party inside, rather than have an outdoor barbecue in the school’s garden. Finally, I now have a job and am running late, so I am hoping that Fred will save me some food, as we know what some teachers are like when there is free food on offer!

Fred has had to work right up to the line this year as the Ministry of Education has decided that Dutch children are not getting enough teaching hours and have recruited a number of busybodies to check up on this. A better way of spending their money than actually paying good, hard-working teachers like Fred a decent salary.

Salaries are big news in The Netherlands at the moment, especially today after it was reported that the company chairman of Nutrico is going to receive 87 million euros bonus as a result of selling the company on to the French concern Danone. The man had done great work in turning Nutrico around but many feel that he could have arranged for the bonus to be paid on the takeover to be spread around more people in the company. This is a one-off and whereas people can see that in many ways he deserves to do well, what really annoys people are the large golden handshake payments made to people who are asked to leave the company after doing a bad job.

They have also seen that there are a number of civil servants and people working for semi-government organizations who earn more than the Prime Minister. This is thought to be a bad idea, so they have decided that in future such people should not be offered more than the PM’s salary. Realising that reducing salaries is too difficult, they have recently decided to increase substantially the PM’s own salary and so bring the upper boundary a few pegs higher! What a great idea.

I have a better one in that both Prime Ministers and teachers should receive any performance related pay. A good teacher like Fred who is very conscientious, hard working and well respected gets paid no more than certain colleagues of his who are lazy and not respected. What this would mean for JP ‘Harry Potter’ Balk-ellende, I would not know, dare to say that he commands very little respect from me.


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