More regional NS train strikes announced, starting with Friday in the northwest & west
The unions representing NS train workers announced they will continue their demonstrations against the Dutch national railway with three more one-day regional strikes. Unlike the five regional strikes from last last month, the new strikes will cover a wider area of the country, labor union FNV Spoor said in a statement on Monday.
The first strike will take place on Friday in the northwest and west of the Netherlands. Then, on 13 September, strikes will shut down the national railway in the north, south, and east. A strike on 15 September will affect the central region. “If there is still no collective labor agreement after this second strike wave, nationwide strikes will follow,” FNV said, repeating its earlier intent.
Previously, NS responded to the strike in Central Netherlands by shutting down nearly all train traffic in the country. The railway said it was too challenging to safely operate their timetable in a reasonable manner when many trains either stop or start their routes in Utrecht, or pass through the region. During the other four one-day strikes, the NS attempted to isolate the strike region as much as possible.
The earlier strikes did not affect trains operated by regional carriers, and mostly did not affect international trains operated by Thalys and Eurostar. However, on days in which the strikes involved the south and east, the NS Intercity Berlin was rerouted around the problem, the Intercity to Brussels skipped its stop in Breda, and both the Deutsche Bahn ICE and Nightjet services to Switzerland and Austria skipped Den Bosch and Venlo.
FNV Spoor previously threatened more strikes if the NS did not come to the bargaining table with a new collective agreement that more closely met union demands. “As announced last Thursday, the joint railway unions have decided on a sequel to the successful first wave of strikes. Although the strikes of 24, 26, 29, 30 and 31 August were a resounding success in terms of [employee] willingness to take action, and the effect on the timetable and all other activities at NS, there is still no new collective labor agreement,” FNV said.
Union workers alleged their wages have not kept up with the pace of inflation for years. They want a one-time payment of 600 euros per worker, automatic wage increases in line with inflation and fare hikes, and an adjustment to early retirement schemes. They also want management to address the intense work pressure they said workers face.
“Work pressure, appreciation and purchasing power: in a nutshell, that is what is at stake,” FNV stated. The union previously noted the hundreds of job vacancies at NS, while staff members frequently have to work nights and weekends, even if they are approaching retirement age. They also note the durations of their breaks keep getting cut.