Dutch socialists demand solutions to cost of living crisis

The Socialist Party has demanded a cap on energy prices, an increase in the hourly minimum wage, and taxes on the excess profits made by energy companies

September 26, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Dutch Protests
Protest mobilization in Hague. (Photo: via SP)

The Socialist Party (SP) in the Netherlands has intensified its campaign demanding effective measures from the government to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis. On September 23, in the House of Representatives, socialist leader Lilian Marijnissen demanded that the government lower energy prices, increase minimum wages, and tax corporate profits. She said that the energy sector should be in public hands. 

On September 17, SP had organized a massive demonstration in Hague under the banner: ‘Enough is enough! Lower the energy bill and grab the corporate profits.’ Due to widespread protests and public outrage, the Mark Rutte-led center-right government is considering a cap on energy prices. Meanwhile, major energy companies in the Netherlands have announced an increase in tariffs that will come into effect from October.

People across Europe have been reeling under an acute cost of living crisis marked by soaring inflation in food and fuel prices. Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions imposed by the EU and the US on Russian gas exports to Europe, energy prices have skyrocketed in European countries. Profiteering by multinational energy producers and suppliers despite this crisis has worsened the situation, including in the Netherlands.

To tackle the soaring inflation, SP has proposed an emergency plan to increase people’s purchasing power. It includes increasing the hourly minimum wage to 15 euros (USD 14.54) and indexing pensions with inflation. The party has also called for freezing rents, ensuring affordable health care and groceries, and lowering the tax on fuel.

SP stated, “More and more people are struggling to pay the bills. While costs are rising, our wages, benefits and pensions have been lagging behind for years. Groceries, the energy bill, refueling and the rent, it is all becoming more expensive so that more and more people are in trouble.”

“This while the economy is growing, big companies are making huge profits and the super-rich are only getting richer. This creates greater inequality and more and more problems for people. That is why we need a contingency plan now; the costs must be reduced!” it added.

Arnout Hoekstra from the SP leadership told Peoples Dispatch (PD) on September 24, “last week the government announced a compensation for energy costs for households. But at this moment, it is still quite unsure what it will mean for workers’ families, and [it is] unsure how much the energy companies and their shareholders – who make big profits during this energy crisis – have to pay.”

Working class sections across Europe have been organizing protests with the demand that their governments tackle the cost of living crisis. They are demanding increased wages, lowering of energy and food bills, and taxes on corporations that are profiteering from the crisis.