Over 80 flights cancelled at Schiphol adding to transit woes

A total of 82 flights at Schiphol airport were canceled on Tuesday due to a nationwide public transit strike. "Travelers have to check with their airline if their flight is affected", a spokesperson for the airport said to NH Nieuws. 

Many passengers made use of the option to rebook their flights for another day for free, offered by KLM and other airlines, the spokesperson said. Despite this, the airport expects around 200 thousand travelers to move through the airport on Tuesday. According to the airport, that is about what is usual. Schiphol deployed extra personnel to inform travelers about the strike. 

NS is running four trains per hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central Station during the strike, as per court order. That is far less than usual, the company said, but enough to ensure that travelers are not completely stranded.

So far Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop is satisfied with how the airport is handling the public transit strike. "Everything is flowing and the crowds are manageable", he said to NU.nl. "But I'm getting continuous updates from the team."

Benschop stressed that the summary proceedings that forced the trade unions to allow train traffic to and from the airport was not about the strike or inconvenience caused. "But really for safety's sake. We didn't want chaotic situations if thousands of people arrived here per hour who couldn't get away."

The public transit workers are striking for better pensions. The trade unions want to freeze the retirement age at 66 and to make it possible for people with taxing jobs to retire earlier. Other sectors will strike for this reason on Wednesday. According to the unions, many people with taxing jobs or who work in shifts have lost their health by the time they reach retirement. 

"This concerns everyone", a striking NS workers said to NOS from Amsterdam Central Station. "This is a conflict with the government, not with the NS." He said that he feels supported by his employer, but wants to "reach the finish line" while he is still healthy. According to him, the professions train conductor and -driver fall into the 'taxing' category. "We experience aggression, suicide on the tracks, and have irregular rosters. Research show that people with taxing professions live ten years shorter. So it is not true that everyone is getting older, like the government says. The people for whom that does not apply must also be compensated, I think."

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