‘Get a ton? That doesn’t work for most’
‘I sometimes jokingly say that I come from a driver’s family. My former public administration classmates then nod obediently, but I mean that my father and grandfather are or have both been bus drivers. I come from a Brabant family with three brothers and a sister and I am the only one who went to university. I graduated last summer.
“I got my involvement in the union from my father. As an eight-year-old I was already allowed to go on strikes: he actively campaigned for better wages for bus drivers. When I later got a part-time job in the hospitality industry, I also wanted to make a difference to the union and became chairman of a working group. I also became politically active during that period. No, I didn’t have many friends in high school who cared about that too, but I never let that stop me.
“Now I am chairman of the youth branch of the FNV and councilor for GroenLinks in Tilburg. The division between those jobs is about fifty-fifty, although I officially only have a contract with the FNV for one day – that is a partly voluntary position. You can make it as crazy as you want for the city council. It helps that I can read documents quickly; The fact that I studied public administration helps with that.”
‘Since March last year I have been living with my girlfriend in a ground floor apartment in Tilburg, we rent in the private sector. The prices are still not that bad if you compare it with the Randstad, but you could still buy a much larger house for that mortgage rent. We are saving for a house to buy, someday, but whether that will work remains to be seen. This inequality is a major theme in my trade union and political work, and I personally experience it myself.
„I can sometimes get annoyed by articles – also in NRC – with an approach such as: because of corona our savings are piling up, what do you spend it all on? Or what do you do with a donated barrel? These questions do not apply to most of the Netherlands. I myself come from such an environment. That is why, for example, I had to put myself in debt for my studies. That does not make buying a home any easier.
“Still, I am satisfied with my salary: I can pay my bills neatly and also save some money. If I see the benefit of something, I don’t find it difficult to spend larger amounts. Like my wireless earphones, which I use every day for online meetings and during sports. But my girlfriend recently bought such a large rock crystal for at home, for example. She likes that, but I would spend less money on it myself.”