Factory farm fire death total nears 110,000 as 8,000 pigs die in Brabant blaze

Some 8,000 pigs died in a blaze at a factory farm in Heusden in the province of Brabant on Tuesday, taking the total number of animals to die in farm fires this year to over 100,000. The Brabants Dagblad reported that one of the farm workers heard an explosion shortly before the fire ripped through two barns housing the pigs. Heusden is the latest in a series of fires to hit factory farms in the Netherlands. In August some 2,500 pigs died in Didam near Arnhem while a year ago 20,000 pigs died at a mega farm in Gelderland. According to animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier some 100,000 animals have died in fires so far this year. Last year, there were 47 factory farm fires in the Netherlands and 229,000 animals were killed. An action plan to cut the number of fires put together by the industry, plus animal protection group Dierenbescherming, insurers and the fire brigade, says more needs to be done to make old barns more fire proof. Checks of the electrical installations of all barns housing livestock, one of the measures proposed in the plan, are currently under way. Thousands of barns have already been looked at. However, the plan does not include compulsory lightning conductors and sprinkler systems, stating instead that more research needs to be carried out. Last July, the pro-animal PvdD introduced a motion to parliament calling for better fire safety at factory farms, but it failed to win enough support. The three Christian parties and two Liberal parties D66 and VVD voted against the measure.  More >

PVV will not join Steve Bannon's movement

The Dutch anti-Islam party PVV will not join the far right European political movement launched by US president Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon. Marcel de Graaff, who leads the PVV in the European parliament, told broadcaster NOS in an interview that the project involves people whom 'we absolutely do not want to work with'. 'That is why we are explicitly distancing ourselves from The Movement,' he said. In particular, Belgian politician Mischael Modrikamen 'is making all sorts of political statements which we do not support,' De Graaff said. The launch of The Movement has twice been postponed and is now scheduled to take place in January.  According to broadcaster NOS, other right-wing populist parties, including the Front Nationale and Sweden Democrats, have also said they do not support the plan.   More >

Most freelance builders have no insurance

Over two-thirds of freelance builders have no insurance to cover them if they are unable to work, partly because insurance companies refuse to take them on, Trouw reports on Tuesday. In particular, the over-45s find it almost impossible to get disability insurance because insurers consider the risk of them becoming injured is too high, the paper said. Those who can get insurance find the cost - some €500 to €600 a month - to be prohibitive. And many policies include a clause stating that the over 60s are excluded anyway, the paper points out. A poll of members of the self-employed building sector lobby group Zelfstandigen Bouw found just 31% now have disability insurance, compared with 72% in 2010, before the huge surge in freelancing. There is pressure on the government from unions and some political parties who back the introduction of compulsory disability insurance for all freelancers. They argue that un-insured workers put too great a strain on the benefit system if they become unable to work through injury. A spokesman for the insurance association VvV told Trouw there is no point in offering building workers insurance if they can't afford the premiums.  More >

Eindhoven Ryanair crew strike over closure

Ryanair cabin crew based at Eindhoven airport are going on strike on Tuesday in protest at the Irish budget airline's plans to close its southern Dutch base, However, passengers are unlikely to notice much impact because Ryanair usually brings in crews from outside to make sure all the flights go ahead, news agency ANP reported. The airport's website says there may be some cancellations or delays. Ryanair said at the beginning of October it is closing its Eindhoven base, which currently operates four planes, but said ‘most routes to and from Eindhoven will continue on overseas based aircraft’. Some 50 or so pilots and 150 cabin crew are based in Eindhoven and the airline offers 155 flights from the airport per week. The announcement was made as Ryanair issued a profit warning, cutting the forecast from €1.25bn – €1.35bn, to a new range of €1.10bn – €1.20bn. The new figure is due to the summer strikes as well as higher oil prices, the airline said in a statement. Update: Ryanair told DutchNews.nl in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that 'all of our Eindhoven flights are operating as normal, all of our crews reported for duty and we look forward to carrying all of our Eindhoven customers today.'  More >

Eurostar to boost direct London service

Train company Eurostar is to add one service a day to its direct route from London to Amsterdam and plans to more than double services in the future, the AD reported on Tuesday. Eurostar introduced the new service to Rotterdam and the Dutch capital in April and says the extra train will operate from June 2019. Currently passengers using the return service to London have to go through passport and security checks in Brussels, but officials hope this can be done at the Dutch stations by the end of next year. So far an extra 130,000 people have made use of the twice-daily direct service, Eurostar told the paper.   More >

Youths arrested in online fraud enquiry

Facebook app on mobile phone Police arrested 20 teenagers in Rotterdam at the weekend as part of an investigation into fraud by online traders on sites such as Marktplaats and Facebook. The youths, aged between 14 and 18, were part of a scam to sell phantom goods online, whereby buyers paid for items that were never delivered. Police said the scheme was run by criminals who persuaded the youngsters to give them access to their bank accounts in exchange for rewards ranging from a burger at McDonald's to several hundred euros. A spokesman said that only one of the teenagers arrested was part of the gang behind the fraud: 'We hope to identify more of the fraudsters on the basis of information that we obtain from interviews with the youths.' The suspects have been released from custody, many of them after being referred to the Halt service that deals with youth justice. Some have been ordered to undergo training courses in how to refuse requests to gain access to their bank accounts. Others were given a community service order and in one case a suspect was ordered to appear before a judge.  More >