Huge public transit strike to hit Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag

Amsterdam trams packed full on a snowy Monday morning, 11 Dec 2017
Amsterdam trams packed full on a snowy Monday morning, 11 Dec 2017Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

A massive 24-hour strike by public transportation workers was scheduled by trade union FNV. The labor protest will affect the national railway firm NS, as well as public transit in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Den Haag, the three biggest cities in the Netherlands, FNV revealed on Wednesday.

The strike is set for May 28, and could include regional transportation workers as well, though that will be announced in the future. The labour union also called on workers in other sectors to strike on May 29.

"We do this not only for ourselves, but for all Dutch people who want to enjoy a well-earned pension at a decent age," said FNV's urban transportation director Eric Vermeulen. "There will now be no public transport in the city for a day, to prevent us from having to drive buses full of people over 70 to work."

The organized workers want the Dutch government to freeze and ultimately roll back the retirement age, saying that the work undertaken by train and transit workers is too difficult to continue into the later years of a person's life. In a statement, union leader Henri Janssen cited the emotional distress caused by abusive passengers, irregular working hours, and loud noise, as well as the physical challenge of working on a moving vehicle and carrying out maintenance on heavy equipment.

The FNV wants everyone to receive pension include flexible freelance workers and self-employed people and pensions which are price-indexed to increase with inflation, in addition to at least holding the pension age at 66 years. The retirement age is due to rise to 67.25 years by 2024.

"Now that the state pension age is shifting further and further back, I increasingly see members quit before the finish," Janssen said.

"Our members want to reach retirement in a healthy way!" Wim Eilert of trade union VVMC said. He noted similar health concerns, as well as the concerns raised when a worker becomes the witness of suicide on the tracks. "The retirement age must be reduced for these employees!"

People working with metal, those in construction, and IT maintenance workers were also encouraged by the union to go on strike.

The FNV also said that people working in so-called "heavy professions" are likely to face chronic health problems 17 years before their retirement. These workers live on average seven fewer years than workers in other industries, the union said citing pension fund mortality statistics.