Trade unions announced last week that the Dutch Railways (NS) will strike in three major cities in the Netherlands on May 28. On Thursday, FNV regional transport union announced that regional bus drivers would also participate. The public transport strike will happen in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague as strikers protest for lower retirement age.
Public transport strike in the Netherlands on May 28: What should the commuter take into account?
The campaigns are organized by trade unions FNV, CNV and VCP and are the prelude to a national day with pension campaigns on Wednesday 29 May, reports Volkskrant.
The strike will occur for 24 hours. “People have to rely on being closed from the early morning of May 28 to the beginning of Wednesday, May 29,” said Eric Vermeulen union director at FNV, reports NOS.
Employees in Utrecht and Gelderland will not participate in the strike and the regional transport will run in these areas, reports RLT Nieuws. This includes Utrecht (Keolis and Qbuzz), the Veluwe (Keolis), the Achterhoek and Rivierenland (Arriva), as well as Lelystad and the surrounding area (Connexxion). Apart from these few places, transport will not be working for the rest of the country.
Trade unions have extended the strike to include stopping work in the metal and construction sectors. These sectors will strike on May 29.
Why is there a public transport strike in the Netherlands?
Trade unions want the retirement age to stay at 66 years, as millions of employees in the industry face heavy work making it difficult to achieve healthy retirement. According to the Dutch Trade Unions Federation (FNV), in the Netherlands, the retirement is gradually rising to 67 by 2024 as life expectancy rises, reports NOS. The unions want the retirement age to be frozen and people that carry out heavy work to be able to retire earlier.
FNV regional transport union spokeswoman Brigitta Paas has said that the regional bus drivers are supporting the three main requirements that NS unions have been campaigning for. These requirements include: 1) freezing the state pension and canceling the fine on an earlier retirement 2) Indexation, a pension that increases with price trends 3) a pension for everyone, including the self-employed and people with a less secure contract.
Ook het Streekvervoer ligt dinsdag 28 mei grotendeels plat. Er wordt net als bij de NS en het stadsvervoer in 3 grote steden gestaakt voor een goed pensioen voor iedereen! https://t.co/6nMS3X3I1h
— FNV (@FNV) May 15, 2019
Re-do of March 18 protest
The two action days at the end of May are a continuation of the large pension campaigns of 18 March. Even then, NS employees stopped and trains stopped symbolic minutes in the early morning. During the day, striking employees from many sectors came together to demonstrate for a better pension. The actions were canceled mid-afternoon due to the attack in Utrecht, reports Volkskrant.
This strike is also a re-do of the protest intended for March 18, where the construction and metal trade unions attended and work stopped for 66 minutes in the morning rush hour. 40,000 people participated but it was interrupted halfway due to the Utrecht attack.
How can you reach Schiphol airport on May 28th?
Many of us were worrying about the public transport strike on 28th May, but mainly to and from Schiphol airport. Well, now the judge has ruled that the strike must not take place in the area around Schiphol.
The judge has said that ‘Schiphol must be accessible by train’, according to RTL Nieuws. This is because it’s one of the busiest areas in the country and it would be chaotic and if there are crowds of people it can be unsafe.
This is bad news for trade unions and the people who now have to work though, as the whole point of the strike was to force change (as with any strike). RTL Nieuws reports that Schiphol was warned about the strike a month ago and was offered a safety meeting, however, they waited until the last minute, panicked and then filed proceedings against the trade unions to prevent the strikes full stop. The judge then ruled for it to not go ahead just in the Schiphol area.
How will the May 28 strike affect Dutch high school exams?
Final exams at Dutch high schools have started this month and will end on May 29, a day after the strike. For several students, this could be an issue and they will have to choose another form of transportation such as a car or bicycle. However, the Hogeschool Utrecht (HU) has decided to cancel the attendance obligation on May 28, reports nu.nl. They will postpone the exams as they believe that “it cannot be the case that this group of students is affected: no student can be the victim”.
What is the government doing?
The trade unions are pressuring parliament and companies to reach a pension agreement and the inability to do so has led trade unions to strike. Trade unions, the government, and employers have been negotiating a new pension agreement for years. In November, a pension agreement seemed possible between employers, the government and the trade unions, but the trade unions eventually walked away from the negotiations.
Trade unions, the government, and employers all agree that the pension system needs to be renewed. A spokesperson for Social Affairs Minister Koolmees told NOS, “everyone is aware of the urgency of the pension file”. Pensions have not been increasing with inflation for years and there have been cutbacks on benefits funds, reports Volkskrant.
However, VNO-NCW, Dutch employers’ Federation told NOS that the situation is “a conflict between the government and trade unions”. They say employers agree with trade unions on lower retirement age and that employees in heavy professions should be able to retire earlier.
Here at the Dutch Review, if you are a working professional, we suggest arranging a work from home day with your employer. You will be more productive and will not have to worry about a long commute or being late to work!
We all know how inconvenient a public transport strike in the Netherlands can be, but it’s not more inconvenient than working under poor conditions or under an unfair pension. The right to protest is a cornerstone of democracy and that these trade unions have the right to demand a better pension!
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Let us know in the comments, below!
Feat Image Source: Pexels/Skitterphoto