NS tries to prevent strike with new offer; Immediate 5% pay raise, 2.5% more in January
The Dutch national railway, NS, has sent an updated proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement to its labor unions. With the offer, the railway company hopes to put an end to the vast unrest among the staff, who have been campaigning for months for a better contract, and have announced a new round of strikes.
The NS is now proposing to boost wages by 5 percent with retroactive effect from 1 July of this year, and to give employees a one-time bonus payment of 650 euros. An additional 2.5 percent pay raise would be added on 1 January. Furthermore, the management wants to "make agreements on how to deal with the uncertainty of the developments around inflation" and, among other terms, offered a minimum wage of 14 euros to those covered under the collective labor agreement.
In a letter to the unions, HR & Organization Director Richard Greve acknowledged that the company has made mistakes. "Partly due to coronavirus, we reacted late to the tight labor market with all the associated consequences: Unstable schedules, insufficient capacity to take time off, and drop outs,” he wrote.
Greve referred to last week's strikes in the letter, which had far-reaching consequences for travelers. "Taking action is not an everyday occurrence at NS. That so many were forced to do this is therefore significant." The NS drew the conclusion that “things have to be done differently” after witnessing the strikes.
"We need to join forces," Greve continued. "That management, employee participation, and trade unions work together with all NS employees to build the future of a strong NS."
The unions are considering the new offer, a spokesperson for CNV said when asked. FNV, VVMC, and VHS are also involved in the negotiations regarding the new employment terms.
In addition to a higher wage, the NS management proposed to abolish the so-called youth pay scales and to give colleagues "more certainty about leave." According to the proposal, two days off are guaranteed. The railways also want to discuss the issues regarding irregular services on weekends and at night.
The right to be unreachable and refuse contact from the NS during personal time can also be included in the collective labor agreement, as far as the NS is concerned.
Reporting by ANP