Regional bus, train staff start 5-day strike; Some Arriva trains running, NS unaffected
On Monday, thousands of bus drivers, train conductors, and train drivers in regional public transport started a 5-day-log strike. The strike could impact regional bus and train services across the country. Some Arriva trains are running in the north of the country.
The strikers are fighting for higher wages and measures to reduce their workload and, thus, absenteeism. The strike includes personnel from public transport companies like Arriva, Qbuzz, and Keolis. The two collective labor agreements for which the strike takes place cover over 14,000 people. Only NS trains and city transport in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague are not part of the strike. Those employees fall under different collective bargaining agreements.
Arriva reported that its trains were running according to the timetable in Groningen and Friesland on Monday morning. The trains may be more crowded than usual because it is using shorter trains. The company initially said that trains were also running mostly to schedule on the Vechtdal lines and in the Achterhoek, but that turned out to be incorrect. “We tried to make a suitable train timetable this morning and start running, but in the end, it turned out to be impossible,” Arriva said.
Arriva expects the strike to have a bigger impact on its buses. The percentage of buses running should become clear in the course of the morning. Arriva advised travelers to check the travel planner for the current state of affairs just before departing on their journey.
A national strike in regional public transport last month resulted in about 40 percent of this transport not running, the public transport companies said. Trade union FNV, the only union involved in that strike, said the actual impact was much more significant. “We think that 70 percent weren’t running,” Marijn van der Gaag of the union said. This week’s strike also involves unions CNV and VVMC.
The unions say they realize travelers’ are the victim of this action. “That is very sour. Bus drivers also like nothing more than transporting people from A to B. But the limit has really been reached,” said Van der Gaag. CNV called the strike an “emergency signal.” The rosters are much too tight, according to the union. As a result, many drivers fall ill, and colleagues then have to work even harder to fill the gaps.
Employers’ organization VWOV called the strike unnecessary. At the same time, VWOV chairman Fred Kagie called FNV’s wage demand “out of this world.” Kagie said he wants to talk to the unions again, but it remains to be seen whether the employers will put their earlier wage offer of an 8 percent increase in 2023 back on the table.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times