In a column originally published in the Volkskrant on May 31, Doekle Terpstra — former chair of the CNV trade union federation, an independent grassroots organization with over 350,000 members — declared that it’s “time for a new social contract, a new balance between economic and social interests.”

To continue to put our faith in the current approach and the institutions that go with it is not an option. It would be natural to call upon the social partners – unions and employers – to work together and draw up a future-proof social agenda.

A new social contract could bolster their credibility but it takes courage to leave the trodden path. I have my doubts about the innovative power of the consensus economy and the discussion will have to take place elsewhere. The partners in this discussion will have to be prestigious economists, entrepreneurs, workers and a commission of wise men. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and prepare a social contract for a new cabinet.

Terpstra suggests that such a contract could include, among other elements, a basic income or “some form of negative income tax” to secure a “viable financial basis” for all persons regardless of employment status.


Doekle Terpstra, “It’s time for a new social contract, says a former Dutch union boss,”, June 27, 2016.

Photo of Terpstra (Mar 2007) CC Bernd Out

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About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.