Public transit back up-and-running after strike

Passengers board a train to Vlissingen at Amsterdam Central Station, 19 Jan 2018
Passengers board a train to Vlissingen at Amsterdam Central Station, 19 Jan 2018Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

After a nationwide 24-hour long strike on Tuesday, public transit employees are back at work. The transit companies managed to restart their services without major issues.

NS reports no strike-related faults or delays on its website. The only delays reported have to do with planned track maintenance on the Leeuwarden-Meppel route, which will last until Sunday. 

The public transit companies in the big cities report a few delays, but none that are obviously strike-related. The GVB in Amsterdam reports delays on subway lines 54 and 53 due to technical issues, and on tram line 17 due to a points and signals failure. RET in Rotterdam had an issue with Bus 144, but that line is back on schedule again. U-OV in Utrecht reports no problems. And HTM in The Hague had a now-resolved issue with trams 2, 3, 4 and 6. 

The strike on Tuesday resulted in busier-than-usual rush hours in the morning and the evening, but nothing record breaking. Schiphol had only four trains per hour running between the airport and Amsterdam Central station, but the airport called the resulting crowds "manageable". Over 80 flights were canceled at the airport due to the strike.

The strike was announced well in advance, and many Dutch managed to make alternative arrangements to get to work, school or university. The people who did gather at train stations on Tuesday were mainly tourists who did not know about the strike

Public transit workers were striking for a better pension system on Tuesday. 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."