Nationwide strike in regional public transit starts Wednesday, unions confirm

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

Regional public transit workers across the Netherlands will strike from Wednesday, unions CNV and FNV confirmed. Mediators' attempt to make a new collective bargaining agreement for this sector failed, ANP reports.

CNV called on its members to strike for 72 hours starting on Wednesday morning. "Unfortunately, we would've like to see this end differently", CNV negotiator Jean-Marie Severijns said. 

FNV also announced that its negotiations with employers in regional public transit failed. "That means that the previously announced strikes in regional public transit will go through from Wednesday for an indefinite period", the union said. FNV negotiator Paula Verhoef added to the news wire: "We had hoped to get through it, mediators were even deployed. Despite that outreach from our side, the employers are totally unreasonable and do not want to agree on anything."

FNV emphasized that they're not organizing this strike for the fun of it. "We do not want to bother travelers, but the need is high. Unfortunately striking is the only means we have", Verhoef said.

The strike was first scheduled to start on Monday, but the unions delayed it by two days to give the mediators extra time to find a solution. This collective bargaining agreement covers around 12 thousand employees in regional transport. The unions want a salary increase of 3.5 percent for them, measures to reduce their workload and a break every 2.5 hours. 

The strike will affect all city- and regional buses of Connexxion, Arriva, Qbuzz, Keolis, EBS and Hermes. Some regional train lines will also be halted, such as a number of Arriva trains in Limburg. The GVB in Amsterdam and HTM in The Hague fall under a separate collective bargaining agreement and will run as usual. Some RET buses and trams in Rotterdam will be affected by the strike. NS trains will run as usual. 

Employers' organization VWOV is furious about the unions' decision to go through with the strike, chairman Fred Kagie said to the news wire. According to him, the employers made great efforts to come to an agreement with the unions over the past days. "We made concrete proposals and requested time to do their calculations. But now that is not good enough. Our travelers now get the the coming strikes chosen for them, in a week of big events like the TT in Assen", he said.