Thousands of Dutch workers have downed tools in what has been described as the largest strike in the country’s metal sector for 15 years. The 24-hour stoppage is affecting about 100 firms, including the Dutch plants of London-based steel and aluminium producer Corus and carmaker Nedcar, part of Mitsubishi. It is in protest at the government’s plans to radically shake up the social security system.Public transport workers have already staged strikes, in late September and then two weeks ago, and trade unions are already planning more industrial action. In the coming weeks a whole range of sectors could be affected – construction, defence, the postal service, healthcare and education. When Jan Peter Balkenende’s government unveiled its 2005 budget, it included plans to phase out tax breaks on pensions. One major union is vowing to continue industrial action until parliament finishes its deliberations on the budget.