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Dutch minister wants banking pay cuts

Feb 11 2013 10:29 Reuters

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Amsterdam - Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem wants all bank employees to take a pay cut in return for the state support that has been given to most of the country's biggest banks, he told a local newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

Dijsselbloem, who is also chair of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, nationalised the Netherlands' fourth-largest bank and insurance group, SNS Reaal, ten days ago. 

ABN AMRO was nationalised and both ING and Aegon were bailed out by the state in 2008.  

The bank rescues and high salaries earned by senior bankers have prompted a public outcry at a time of budget cuts and austerity measures.

"We have saved jobs partly thanks to state support. Therefore I think it is reasonable for employees to also make a contribution," Dijsselbloem told De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest circulation newspaper.

"It is true that banks' collective labour agreements are quite generous, also for regular employees. I think there is every reason for banks' collective labour agreements to be more sober, and it really has to happen now," he said.

Dijsselbloem wants the labour agreements between unions and employer groups, which usually cover one or several years, to be severed and adjusted, he told the paper.

Dijsselbloem has no power to lower salaries in a specific sector. He can levy specific taxes on banks, though not their employees.

"I want the sector to take action on its own. Society wants a clear signal. I will put pressure on this," he said.

Dijsselbloem last week defended in parliament the annual salary of €550 000 ($735 900) for the newly appointed SNS Reaal chief executive, Gerard van Olphen, saying the pay was needed to attract a qualified banker.


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