Regional transport firms ready to negotiate if unions end strike
The association of regional public transport employers, VWOV, said it wants to meet with the labor unions to discuss the collective bargaining agreement for the regional transport sector. A new round of talks will only happen on one condition: the strikes must stop, the VWOV said.
The VWOV believes a moderator could help break the deadlock in negotiations. The FNV and CNV labor unions also said they want to return to the bargaining table with the help of an independent party.
Regional transport workers have regularly gone on strike in recent months, including this week. The VWOV has continuously held the position that it cannot offer more than an improvement in employment conditions with a wage increase of 11 percent. There is no more money for any additional pay raises, because there is no more money, the VWOV said. After the coronavirus crisis, the profit margin is extremely small.
The FNV has demanded a 16.9 percent salary increase for a one-year contract. The CNV wants a 14 percent increase over an 18-month deal.
However, all parties know that they will eventually have to achieve a deal on a new collective agreement. A VWOV spokesperson expressly stated that it wants a moderator to guide talks, and not a mediator. “We’re certainly open to that,” she said, but she believes a mediator would take a more substantive position, and try to have input on the content of the talks. Someone who just supervises the process or acts as a discussion leader would not do that, she said.
that why a mediator is not chosen is due to the fact that he “takes substantive positions and thinks along from the content”. “A process supervisor or discussion leader does not do that,” said the spokeswoman.
FNV regional transport leader Marijn van der Gaag indicated that FNV is also open to mediation, although he prefers someone who is more like a scout to guide the process. “It can help expose the bottlenecks. I think that is something that both parties are open to. We have nothing to hide and a conversation will have to start.” Although the union also indicated that it will not stop going on strike until the VWOV comes up with a good proposal.
CNV negotiator Hanane Chikhi agreed. “We would like to stop or suspend the strikes, but only when employers want to do something about the high workload. That is where the biggest problem lies.” She said employers have to make steps to meet the unions in the middle, and they need to bring “concrete proposals” to the table. Chikhi also wants talks to start again under the guidance of an independent party.
And it is precisely those strikes that seem to stand in the way of not only a collective agreement, but also a follow-up meeting with a moderator. “As long as there is a strike, and these ultimatums with these wage demands are on the table, we see no basis for a conversation,” said the VWOV spokesperson. “If the unions stop these actions and take a breather, we would like to sit down at the table. This can be done with a process supervisor if that helps. Then we can put the puzzle back together.”
Reporting by ANP