Police contract dispute has parliament at odds

Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)

The conflict between Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice and the police unions over a better collective bargaining agreement has the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, concerned, the Telegraaf reported on Monday.

Opposition parties SP, D66, PVV and ChristenUnie want the Minister to make a new offer to end the police protests.

"The minister has caused this impasse himself. He is responsible for ensuring that officers can do their jobs but leaves them to their fate", SP Parliamentarian Nine Kooiman said to the newspaper. ChristenUnie MP Gert-Jan Segers even went so far to say that Van der Steur is responsible for the escalation of the conflict.

"Appreciation is not shown only in words, but also by a decent salary. Five years of no wage increase is unacceptable." said PVV Parliamentarian Lilian Helder. D66 MP Magda Berndsen thinks that the police deserve more recognition and appreciation through offering good working conditions. CDA MP Peter Oskam said that the Ministry has been too self involved with restructuring, budget cuts and political turbulence and called on the Minister to provide police officers with clarity and guidance.

The VVD is siding somewhat more with fellow party member Van der Steur. MP Ockje Tellegen said that the Tweede Kamer should not play a role in working conditions negotiations. She warned that public safety should not be compromised by police actions. "Just come to the table. There must be an end to this impasse."

Van der Steur offered all civil servants a once off lump sum of 500 euros and a wage increase of 5.05 percent over two years. This will also save the government money in lower pension contributions. The police unions are not satisfied with this offer, and have launched new protest actions, including a seven week action during which the police will only respond to emergency calls for one extra day each week.

So far the police actions have resulted in the National Treasury losing out on 66 million euros in unissued speeding tickets due to the police action of only fining serious offenses. Police actions organized during football matches in the Premier League has also resulted in the KNVB having to reschedule five matches.

Minister Van der Steur wrote a letter to the unions last week stating that no more money will be made available on top of what has already been promised and invited the unions back to the negotiation table to talk about working conditions. The Ministry of Security and Justice is waiting for the unions' response.