Train workers strikes to initially only affect international trains, unions say
The trade unions are preparing strikes at Dutch Railways (NS). Initially, the actions will only affect the international trains to Brussels and the service at the stations, they said. If the rail operator does not comply with the demands of FNV and VVMC, the unions also want to set up strikes among the rest of the NS staff and that of high-speed train Thalys.
The unions are not yet ready to say when exactly the strike will take place and what the impact will be. Then the element of surprise would be lost. They did indicate that they will inform travelers in a timely manner. The NS said it is "disappointed" by the announcement. The company wants to continue talking to the unions in the coming days and will also provide more information for travelers as soon as it is clear what the actions entail exactly.
FNV and VVMC recently sent several ultimatums to NS, but according to them the company did not give a satisfactory answer. The ultimatums were specific to the parts of the staff where the strike will be first. But according to FNV director Henri Janssen, these are such important matters at the company that eventually broader campaigns could be held, for example with the driving personnel.
At NS International and Thalys, the unions want a better offer for improving the working conditions of conductors. The members voted against a final offer in which more wages was promised, among other things.
In addition, staff are dissatisfied with the way in which NS is implementing the redesign of the service at the stations. This would make it increasingly difficult to guarantee safety and service to the travelers. It would also become more difficult for service employees to do their work under good conditions.
The transport company was hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. Last month, NS recorded a loss of millions for the first half of this year. The number of travelers was still much lower than before the pandemic, according to the company. NS only transported 35 percent of the number of passengers compared to before the outbreak of the virus.
Reporting by ANP