Employers want to reverse promised raises if economy looks bad
Employers want it to be possible to temporarily reverse already agreed-upon wage increases if the economy takes a bad turn. This is one of many proposals employers' associations AWVN, MKB-Nederland, and VNO-NCW plan to make to employees during collective bargaining talks next year, RTL Nieuws reports.
According to the employers, it should be possible to cancel wage increases, even if they have been agreed upon in a collective agreement, in extreme cases like last year's pandemic. The employers won't abuse this possibility, Raymond Puts, director of AWVN, said to RTL. But the option is needed because collective agreements are made in advance about circumstances you can't foresee, he said.
On the other side of that coin, employees should also get higher than agreed-upon increases when things are going well, Puts added. "Recently, wage increases of 2.5 percent have been agreed upon, which is a neat development. But in companies where things are going really well, it would be very nice if those who work there also benefit, with a higher wage and part of the profit."
Employers also want to counteract the shortage in the labor market. They want to make work more attractive for current and new staff. And according to them, that's not just about more pay. They also want to improve work-life balance by, among other things, focusing on more hybrid work and childcare and by offering more opportunities for learning and development. Some 90 percent of employers are currently struggling with staff shortages they expect will continue or increase next year, the employers said.
Trade union FNV is not pleased by the employers' proposal to reverse wage increase agreements. "Too often we see that employers take advantage of a crisis or a dip in business operations by trying to structurally intervene in the employment conditions," vice-chairman Zakaria Boufangacha said. "That people have to hand in their honestly earned wage increase when the company is doing less well is downright antisocial, symbol politics, and indicative of the hardened attitude employers have at the collective bargaining table."
The employers' proposal comes at a time of massive staff shortages in the Netherlands' labor market. And when inflation is at its highest level in decades. According to FNV, instead of cutting wage increases, employers should increase wages more in sectors with shortages. "The groceries and housing costs are not getting cheaper," the union said.