Public transit strike shuts down many routes around Netherlands today

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Connexxion bus (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Bartjk). (Connexxion bus (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Bartjk))

Public transportation in the Netherlands was seriously disrupted Thursday morning after regional transit workers walked off the job at 4 a.m. in a one-day strike. The labour action is meant to call attention to what the workers have called unreasonable work pressure, and a pay raise that is capped 40 percent lower than what the bus drivers and train conductors wanted.

Workers promised to return to the job in time for overnight services, beginning at 11 p.m.

Buses, trains, and trams operated by Arriva, Connexxion, EBS, Keolis, and Qbuzz were largely silent. Passengers who ride those services were advised to pay close attention to those companies' websites, or to find alternative transportation.

Rotterdam bus-goers and tram users were told to give plenty of extra time when travelling between locations on Thursday. The RET advised travellers there to watch for up-to-date information, as nearly every route except the subway is affected in some way.

In Utrecht, where Qbuzz operates buses and trams, residents and visitors were largely advised to stay home by the transit firm. The firm asked passengers to watch their social media channels and for more information, though technical problems had affected the website on Wednesday.

Their was no major impact in Amsterdam by 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Transit workers say they are often under extreme pressure to stick to their schedules, forcing them to "hold it in" instead of going to the bathroom, and to work through their meal breaks. They also called for a 3.5 percent raise.

The unions involved in the strike said the transit businesses refused to negotiate on work pressures, and limited any salary increases to a maximum of two percent. Qbuzz responded by saying no final offer was ever presented by the transportation operators, and that a deal was still possible when unions called for the disruption.

Labor unions CNV and FNV ordered the strike when they said negotiations with the five main regional transit firms stalled. The companies provide public transportation across the entire country, as a supplement to many city's own transportation and the national railway NS.

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