Workers could strike at ABN AMRO for the first time in decades
Employees of the Dutch bank ABN AMRO are threatening their first demonstrations and strikes for the first time in almost 35 years. The 17,500 bank employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement want to put pressure on their employers to sharply increase wages to compensate for the current sky-high inflation. They also say that years have gone by where staff received little or no raises at all.
The bank’s employees recently received a final offer indicating 5 percent wage hikes spread out over two years. Inflation this year alone is expected to be 9.9 percent.
The offer from the bank is "completely inadequate," said FNV Finance. The labor union has polled its members on their willingness to take action at the bank, and it showed there was “enormous” support to do so. Trade union CNV also previously called on its members to vote against the final offer.
The last time ABN AMRO staff campaigned for better working conditions was in 1989. Since then, the bank and the employees have always been able to come to an agreement. After more than three decades, FNV said that demonstrations at the bank are now looming again, because there is no support at all among employees for the proposed average wage increase of 111 euros gross per month from 1 July 2022, and another 3 percent from 1 July 2023.
FNV director Aukje Falger said that there is great unrest among ABN AMRO employees. "And that means we are now going to see what actions we can prepare." FNV Finance wants the bank to allow wages to rise in line with inflation automatically. "It would be to the credit of the State bank to heed the Cabinet's own call, and raise wages enough to sustain purchasing power," Falger said.
Amid reports last month that wages are rising but not in line with inflation, several Cabinet ministers said the onus was on employers to boost salaries to protect household purchasing power. The Dutch State effectively owns 56.3 percent of ABN AMRO, including 49.9 percent of the shares and 6.4 percent in depositary receipts.
A spokesperson for ABN AMRO said that the bank "wants to do everything it can to work towards a solution together in a way that is consistent with responsible business operations.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times