Rotterdam Covid measures protest to continue despite riot police strike
Despite a brief work stoppage by riot police officers in Rotterdam, a demonstration against the government’s coronavirus measures is expected to continue as planned in Rotterdam Sunday afternoon. The municipality expects 15,000 participants to attend the protest march, which will start in the center at noon and continue over the city’s Willemsbrug and Erasmusbrug via the Noordereiland to Rotterdam-Zuid.
The protest, which is supposed to start on the Binnenrotte at noon and ends there at 5 p.m., is organized by the activist group Nederland in Verzet. The group has also organized well-attended protests against government policy in Amsterdam and elsewhere.
The city administration is permitting the protest to continue, because the municipality, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) and the police assume that public order can be sufficiently maintained.
Overlapping with the protest is a a planned work stoppage by the riot police there. The police unions involved want to send a message to the Cabinet, which they say does not want to meet the requirements for a new police collective labor agreement. Police are calling for better working conditions, higher salaries, and for the government to address understaffing.
“We sometimes work double shifts. That is not good. After 16 hours of work you are no longer as sharp as at the start of your shift. There are officers who have worked so much overtime that they no longer have to work for a year,” union representative Coen Verplak told Rijnmond. In recent weeks, police across the country have gone on limited strikes, including at a January protest against coronavirus measures in Amsterdam’s Museumplein and during a football match in Eindhoven.
The riot police strike started at 10 a.m. The police officers will set up along the protest route with their equipment. They will put on their uniforms and end the stoppage at 2 p.m., but if problems arise beforehand they will end their labor strike early. "If the city is on fire, we will go out. Of course we will,” Verplak said.
There will be a police deployment around the match between Feyenoord and Sparta in De Kuip, which starts at 12:15 p.m. In De Kuip, where 16,000 people will attend the Rotterdam derby. That is only a third of the stadium's spectator capacity, as more people are not permitted according to the current coronavirus rules.
Although the Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute (KNMI) has issued a code yellow warning Sunday due to strong wind gusts for provinces including Zuid-Holland, the groups affiliated with the Rotterdam protest have not formally canceled the event.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.