Regional transport strike again today; Concerns about strike on election day
Train staff on regional public transport are on strike on Friday for better working conditions. The trade unions have several more strike days scheduled to force a better collective bargaining agreement, including on the day of the provincial elections on March 15. The government worries that this will hinder voters from getting to the polls.
This is the second consecutive day of strikes in regional public transport. On Thursday, there was a strike on the routes in Achterhoek Riverenland, Twente, and Limburg. On Friday, employees are striking on the Vechtdal line between Emmen and Swolle and on the MerwedeLinge line in the Dordrecht region.
The Arriva trains on the Vechtdal line are not running on Friday. “It turned out to be impossible to run the timetable with the number of people willing to work,” the carrier said on Friday morning. The Arriva trains in the other regions of Groningen and Friesland, the Limburg region, and the Achterhoek Riverenland will run normally.
Carrier Qbuzz advised travelers against using the MerwedeLinge line on Friday because it is uncertain whether buses will run.
The strike call comes from the VVMC trade union and relates to the Multimodal collective agreement, which covers approximately 1,300 employees. The strikes come on top of the national strike days organized by FNV and CNV for the other, larger collective agreement in regional public transport. The employees under that agreement went on strike on Tuesday and Thursday this week.
The planned strike in regional transport on March 15, the day of the Provincial Council elections, will make it more difficult for the blind and partially sighted to vote, the Eye Association warned. Some people depend on public transport to get to an accessible polling station, which is only available in some municipalities, a spokesperson explained. “People understand that there are strikes, but we are completely dependent on public transport. We can’t go anywhere. In general, those strikes are already a problem.”
“Elections are only on one day. You cannot postpone the trip to a polling station for a day. Suppose you live in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer; then you have to travel through the entire polder to get to a polling station with the necessary tools. Then you are dependent on public transport. Or the municipality has to arrange something.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations share these concerns. Anyone who wants to vote must be able to get to a polling station and do so, and some are dependent on regional transport to do this, the Ministry said.
Not only voters but also polling station staff and municipal officials may rely on a bus to get to the polling station, a spokesperson for the Ministry pointed out. “At the same time, the Ministry naturally respects the right to strike. It is up to the unions to take these signals and the importance of an accessible election into account.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times