NS to eliminate up to 2,300 jobs in years ahead; Labor strikes feared

NS train at the Eindhoven Station
Stock photo of a NS train at the Eindhoven Stationsashk0DepositPhotosDeposit Photos

National rail company NS is planning to scale back on as many as 2,300 jobs over the next several years, according to internal presentations obtained by the public broadcaster NOS on Monday. The move is part of an effort to cut back on at least 1.4 billion euros as the company faces plummeting demand following the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Netherlands, the broadcaster said.

Jobs will be scaled back in all parts of the business, NS said, including jobs in the workshops, at the train stations, in the head office, at repair facilities and on the trains themselves. According to the presentations, given that some 2,500 NS employees are set to retire by 2025 anyway, the rail company hopes, where possible, to cut back on jobs through attrition rather than through layoffs.

NS employed around 30,000 employees in total in 2018, of whom over 20,000 worked in the Netherlands, according to the company. The cutback, therefore, could represent more than 10 percent of the company's entire Dutch workforce.

The NS is bracing itself for the possibility of experiencing strikes as a result of the decision, the broadcaster added. While the rail service has not yet indicated how the downsizing will be implemented, it is expected that a majority of the cutbacks, some 1,000 jobs, will take place at the head office, according to the broadcaster. A further 400 to 500 jobs are expected to be cut on the trains themselves as the demand for conductors lessens with time.

Upper management was also expected to see their pay slashed by ten percent.

The public rail company has faced rocky waters in recent months due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Netherlands, with a 4.7 billion euro loss being anticipated for the period leading up to 2025. Earlier this month, Dutch public transport companies together received a 1.5 billion euro bailout from the government in order to help keep them afloat. The extent to which the bailout might help to improve NS's financial situation remains unclear.