Mass strike possible over collapsed police contract talks

Police officers protesting on the Binnenhof in The HaguePicture: Twitter/@ANPV_nl

The police contract conflict and strikes are expanding to other sectors. Teachers, customs officers, tax officials and public transport drivers, among others are considering eventual strikes over the wage agreements the government and unions made just before the summer holidays.

The Volkskrant reports this on Friday after a survey among the unions. According to the newspaper, the involved FNV unions will meet on Wednesday to discuss protest actions with their members. The individual members of the various unions will decide what actions they indent to carry out. Members in public transport are especially willing to protest.

Before the summer customs officials at Schiphol Airport and the port of Rotterdam already held warning strikes. Union members of the Tax Service and prisons held protest marches and will consider further steps on Wednesday. Teachers will only announce their intentions after the school holidays.

The collective bargaining agreement reached just before the summer holidays entails a 5 percent wage increase over two years. But according to FNV, "a trick" with pension contributions means that the real wage increase is only 1.75 percent. "After zero for four years civil servants only get 0.85 percent on balance per year. That shows no appreciation", FNV vice chairman Ruud Kuin said to the Volkskrant. "The bulk of the wage increase is paid by the people themselves because of cuts in the pension for civil servants. The deal actually brings in money for the government through taxes." Employees do not pay taxes on pension contributions, but do pay taxes on extra salary.