NS Conductors on strike at Rotterdam stations; trains delayed

Rotterdam Centraal
The new Rotterdam Centraal building. Source: Wikimedia/Spoorjan.The new Rotterdam Centraal building. Source: Wikimedia/Spoorjan.

Train conductors are striking at all train stations in Rotterdam on Wednesday afternoon, causing delays and cancellations into the evening rush hour. The conductors called the surprise labour action to draw attention to several high-profile attacks on NS conductors after another conductor was abused overnight in the Rotterdam region, the Dutch railway said.

“We are trying to get our travelers to their place of destination, and minimize the impact,” said NS spokesperson Inge Rijgersberg, in an interview with NL Times. “Right now, a few trains are not going today, but a lot are still going to where they are supposed to be,” she added. Many of the affected trains are NS Sprinters.

“We were not aware of this action before it started. It was a surprise to us.”

A representative of the FNV labour union was not available for comment.

The conductors are “very emotional today” after a female colleague “was threatened by a traveller,” Rijgersberg said. The incident took place in Dordrecht, Zuid-Holland, according to RTV Rijnmond. This comes just days after another female conductor was physically attacked in Hoofdorp, winding up with multiple bone fractures to her face.

It was “very shocking to everybody,” Rijgersberg said. “No matter how horrifying the incidents of this week are, travelers aren’t supposed to be delayed by it,” adding that the NS does not condone the labour action.

NS management and union representatives will meet with Secretary of Infrastructure Wilma Mansveld and interim Justice Minister Stef Blok Wednesday night in the Hague to discuss ways of reducing the amount of violence NS conductors and engineers face on a daily basis.

“Last year, we had 777 incidents of aggression,” Rijgersberg said, including accounts of verbal abuse. "We have safety teams. We have cameras. We have courses that can be taken by our personnel. We are doing a lot for the safety of our personnel,” she pointed out.

“We would like to talk to [the government] to see what we can do more than what we are doing now,” she noted.

“We realize we are not the only organization that is struggling with this.”