Photo of demo by Ciaran Hickey. Used with permission.
Photo of demo by Ciaran Hickey. Used with permission.

On October 2nd, Labour International Netherlands members joined the demonstration in Den Haag against the abolition of the dividend tax for foreign investors.

This tax move appears to have come out of the blue, and will cost the Dutch government €2 bn. Those in favour say that it will encourage large multinationals to relocate to and remain in The Netherlands. I, along with the PvdA (the Labour Party of the Netherlands) and thousands of public sector workers think that Premier Rutte is cosying up to big business at the expense of the Dutch tax payer. It is estimated that this move could cost households an extra €250 per annum per capita, without greatly benefiting foreign shareholders, many of whom offset the Dutch tax against their own country’s dividend tax.

Everyone began assembling at 17:00. I was en route, delayed by child care complications and motorway congestion, trying to ignore the Whatsapp messages flashing across my screen.

17:00 “If anyone is coming, look out for our big LI International banner!”

17:15 “So far not too many people. Hopefully a few more will turn up by 6…”

18:00 “Yes, quite a crowd now…”

18:14 “Our poles have been confiscated, so you might not see the banner…”

Wait, what? Yes. Apparently our banner poles were a threat to public order. I’m not prone to violent outbursts myself, but if I was, my arms and legs would definitely be more dangerous than a couple of flag poles stuck inside a banner.

By 18:30 the demo was moving off and I caught up with the rest of our branch members. It was a silent march, which was a new experience for me. No shouting, just a solid presence. We made our way through the centre of Den Haag, past several ministries and back to the Lange Voorhout, an open area in the centre of Den Haag, where speeches were given by representatives from the public sector. Numbers had swelled to around 3,000 but it was a very civilised affair, the police mostly concerned with protecting unwary protestors from the trams crossing their path.

Our banner, now borne aloft by members’ arms, attracted a lot of attention and gave us the opportunity to connect with several prominent Pvda politicians who stopped for selfies. Fellow marchers seemed very glad to see us and welcomed our support on this Dutch issue. However, the question on everybody’s lips was:

“What’s going on with the Brexit then? Is there going to be another referendum?”

Loveday Smith

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