The Netherlands will suffer from more strikes: FNV chairman
Relations between employers and employees are "pretty sharp," so the Netherlands is expected to have to deal with more strikes, said Tuur Elzinga, chairman of the trade union FNV, on Sunday in the TV program Buitenhof. "If employers don't get involved, many more strikes will follow."
Actions at the NS have shown, according to Elzinga, that strikes pay off. The NS came up with a much higher collective labor agreement offer after a series of work stoppages, which halted train traffic in the Netherlands several times.
According to Elzinga, the willingness to go on strike is also high because the sharp rise in inflation puts people in financial need. "For example, at the Bijenkorf there was a strike last week. That has not happened since the 1970s. This happens because people are in a precarious situation."
FNV, the largest trade union in the Netherlands, is now demanding that wages rise in line with inflation. Even if inflation is at the historically high level of 17 percent, as reported by the Central Bureau of Statistics in September, according to Elzinga, this is in principle the wage requirement. When asked whether he is not afraid of a wage-price spiral, a vicious circle in which higher wage costs are passed on in higher prices, he answered in the negative.
"That happened in the 1970s, when we indeed had such an automatic price compensation. But our southern neighbors in Belgium still have that price compensation. They are not affected by a purchasing power crisis like we have here," he reasons. Elzinga also cited the strong economic growth in recent quarters as an argument for higher wages.
The FNV trade union has also been threatening more strikes at the Bijenkorf after an estimated 150 employees laid down their work for an hour on Friday afternoon. FNV director Linda Vermeulen emphasized it is the first time since the 1970s that so many employees of the department store chain wanted to strike. She is outraged that no management delegation came out when the protesters gathered outside the store.
With the strike, the employees wanted to force a "decent wage increase". According to Vermeulen, the staff of the Bijenkorf generally earn only a little more than the minimum wage with 11 to 12 euros per hour. Initially, wages should increase by 10 percent, she said. "Otherwise, more strikes will follow."
Reporting by ANP