Regional public transport strikes suspended as unions and employers restart talks
Labor unions and regional transportation providers are going to begin negotiate with each other again about a new collective bargaining agreement, the employers said on Friday through their association, VWOV. The parties will meet again on Monday. With this, the announced strikes have also been suspended, according to VWOV and the FNV labor union.
In recent months, employers working for public transport companies such as Arriva, Keolis, EBS and Qbuzz have repeatedly stopped working. As a result, many buses were canceled on each strike day, resulting in passenger inconvenience.
More than two weeks ago, FNV and the CNV labor union suspended their strike plans to try talking to the employers again under the guidance of two impartial parties. In addition, the unions indicated that if they did not see any openings for real negotiations in those talks, more strikes would be on the horizon.
But steps have been made under the leadership of the impartial parties, confirmed FNV director Marijn van der Gaag. "There is a broader basis, including work pressure measures."
CNV negotiator Hanane Chikhi also saw "sufficient basis for new negotiations."
The unions therefore see opportunities to successfully complete those negotiations. "We are not there yet, but we aim to have an agreement by Easter," said Van der Gaag of FNV. But that is not a hard deadline and the unions are also taking into account the possibility that the talks will again hit a brick wall.
The collective bargaining conflict in regional public transport revolves around wage increases, tying wages to inflation, and work-related pressure. Given the recent high levels of inflation, the unions want much higher pay raises than the employers said they could offer. But for the unions it is also very important that the workload decreases. CNV is pleased with the steps employers are prepared to take on this subject. This includes discussions on extra breaks for drivers, more spaced out timetables, improved work schedules and services, Chikihi said.
The advisers will also join the renewed negotiations to supervise the fragile talks. On behalf of the VWOV, chairman Fred Kagie said he is happy that the negotiations are resuming. He said that employers are making "maximum efforts to arrive at a new collective agreement."
About 13,000 people fall under the regional transport collective agreement.
Reporting by ANP