Most NS trains cancelled on Friday due to strike; Some Schiphol trains may operate
This story was updated with additional information from NS.
Dutch national railway NS said it will cancel nearly all trains scheduled to operate on Friday as the result of the strike announcement by its largest labor unions. The one-day strike was to be carried out by workers in the northwest and west of the Netherlands, affecting Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, as well as Leiden, Dordrecht, Almere, and the area surrounding Schiphol Airport. This strike is in addition to a separate strike by regional public transportation workers in provinces in the north and northeast of the Netherlands.
As a result of the large, busy region being shut down, the NS said it was not possible to carry out any scheduled service. "Although the actions are regional, the strike area is now larger, and our trains and colleagues operate across the Netherlands. Looking at all options and the experiences of the previous strike days, we see no possibility to operate a timetable in a responsible, reliable and safe manner," the NS said in a statement.
When asked if any trains would operate to and from Schiphol Airport, a spokesperson for the NS told NL Times that there will "probably" be trains between Amsterdam and Schiphol. "We are trying to work that out with the unions." She also said international trains would likely be affected by the strike, but more will be announced about that on Thursday when the company's travel planner is updated. The NS said it will update its online travel planner by Thursday afternoon.
During the second half of August, the labor unions FNV Spoor, VVMC and CNV, which represent thousands of NS workers, held five one-day strikes that were meant to affect narrower regions of the Netherlands. During four of these, the NS ran a more limited timetable meant to isolate the strike area, but the labor demonstration in Central Netherlands pushed NS to cancel all service nationally. Their argument was that too many trains either start or stop in Utrecht, or they pass through the region.
NS workers also said they intend to strike on Tuesday in the northern region, southern region, and eastern region. Then on Thursday, 15 September, they will again go on strike in the Central Netherlands. "Also for these days we expect that the regional strikes will have a major impact on NS train traffic throughout the Netherlands," the national railway stated.
The unions announced a new series of one-day strikes as talks on a new collective labor agreement stalled. Then on Tuesday, the NS submitted a new contract proposal to the unions. "NS finds it extremely irritating that passengers are once again going to suffer so much from the impact of the strikes. All the more so because NS made a new offer to the trade unions last Tuesday and invited them to resume the discussion. The unions have now accepted this invitation," the NS continued.
The labor unions have been insisting on an increase in their wages, which have not kept pace with inflation for many years. They want a one-time payment of 600 euros per worker, automatic future raises that align with inflation and fare increases, and an adjustment to early retirement. Additionally, they want the NS to fill its job vacancies and make it easier for staff members to get nights and weekends free, especially those approaching retirement age.
The NS acknowledged after last month's strikes that the ball was in their court to bring the unions back to the table. They offered a 5 percent pay increase retroactively starting on 1 July, a one-time bonus of 650 euros, and another 2.5 percent pay increase starting in January. Management also wants to work with the unions on a plan to deal with inflation, and said they would bump up the minimum wage for workers to 14 euros per hour. The NS also accepted getting rid of different pay scales for younger workers, and will allow workers to be unreachable during their personal time.
"The NS wants to agree on a good collective labor agreement," the railway said. "The NS took a step yesterday and invited the trade unions for a renewed meeting. The NS is disappointed that the unions decided to continue the strike despite this guideline. Although unions are not suspending the strike, NS believes it is important to resume the conversation."
Separately, the unionized workers at other regional transit providers will also go on strike in Gelderland, Limburg, and Noord-Brabant on Thursday. They will then stop work on Friday Drenthe, Friesland, Groningen, and Overijssel.