NS threatens to fire 43 conductors, drivers in escalating labor conflict
An escalating labor dispute between NS and its employees resulted in 42 conductors and drivers receiving a conditional notice of dismissal, and one train driver already put on suspension awaiting his dismissal case being handled in November, AD reports.
The dismissal procedure against driverr Teus Flierman was launched after he led a working consultation of protest group AMK at Amsterdam Central Station on July 7th. Emotions ran high and a few dozen conductors and train drivers furiously marched onto the platforms. The emergency brake was pulled unnecessarily on a number of trains, and employees threatened to walk onto the tracks, according to the newspaper. This resulted in 75 trains not being able to leave on that day, affecting about 20 thousand travelers.
"There were calls for people to go onto the tracks, and Teus called the traffic control to report it. NS says that he implicitly demanded that the trains stop running", AMK spokesman Dick van der Meulen said to AD. The AMK was established some 30 years ago. The group is mostly dormant, but comes into action when major disputes arise.
After the consultation on July 7th, the AMK put a flyer on their Facebook page that rubbed NS the wrong way. On the flyer, AMK linked NS to Jewish persecution in Amsterdam during WWII. "The pamphlet ended in the words: Staakt!!! Staakt!!! Staakt!!! Well, those same words were used by people opposing the persecution of Jews", Van der Meulen said to the newspaper. "That was the last straw for NS to say: We're not kidding anymore."
The pamphlet was removed, though the AMK did not soften the language they use against the Dutch rail company. Statements like "We are tired of the bosses at NS scattering their nonsens policy over us" and "We are sick and tired of jokingly being talked to and handled by some upstart HBO-plebian who may call himself a manager (of what?). We are tired of childishly hearing how we can and can not sit, walk, work, go to the bathroom, call, check, drive, eat, drink, think stand or watch."
According to Van der Meulen, the NS directors are now out to destroy the AMK once and for all. "Teus Flierman, who has almost 39 years of service, must now pay. He is being made an example. The other 42 NS worker were found by camera images and have all received a conditional notice of dismissal. One more time and they're gone. The tone is: everyone who crticizes us, we'll kick out. And it works. NS people are afraid that they are the next scapegoat. It's dead silent."
According to FNV Spoor manager Henri Janssen, it's the AMK's tone that's the problem. "It raises the hackles. I'm not charmed by that. But now NS is shooting from the hip with a machine gun on everyone who was there on July 7th. That can't be." he said to AD.
NS only released a short statement about the matter: "On July 7th, some colleagues held a 'work consultation' in Amsterdam. In that they had the space to express themselves on a number of matters. In the end, a small group behaved in a way that threatened the order, peace and safety. Everyone at NS has the right and space to express themselves or hold an action, but we draw the line if the safety of travelers or colleagues is compromised. For reasons of dilligence, partly because legal proceedings are ongoing, NS will not provide further explanation at this time."