More public transport strikes set for Wednesday and Friday

Regional public transportation workers will again walk off the job next Wednesday and Friday. This will be the start of a new series of strikes, said Marijn van der Gaag, who represents the FNV labor union’s regional transport workers.

“The people in regional transport have reached their limit. The work pressure is too high due to irregular schedules and tight journey times. If nothing changes, this will be very bad for the future of public transport,” Van der Gaag said on Sunday evening.

The announcement of the new strikes comes two weeks after a previous five-day strike by regional transport workers. The employees want a new collective agreement with wages that increase in line with inflation, and measures to reduce the high workload.

“Due to a shortage of personnel, the workload is sky-high. One in five drivers is sick and that creates an even greater workload. To reduce this, driving times must become less rigid and work schedules must be regular,” said the FNV.

The FNV is demanding a wage increase of 16.9 percent for a one-year collective bargaining agreement. The CNV labor union, which also represents workers in the sector, wants a 14 percent pay increase spread out over an 18 month period.

The money for these wage increases is simply not there, said Fred Kagie, the chair of public transport employers group VWOV. The wage offer from the VWOV is 8 percent for a one year deal.

Kagie said on Friday that the profit margins in public transport are very small, and that many transport companies have been operating at a loss since the coronavirus pandemic.

However, CNV’s negotiator on the deal, Evert Jan van de Mheen, was displeased with the attitude of the employers association. “They pretend that the drivers only care about money, and then shout that money is not there. Of course, a good wage increase is important, but it is about much more than just that money. Even a proposal for a slightly longer break to eat normally in the evening is non- negotiable,” Van de Mheen said of the public transport operators’ position.

“A break of 20 minutes instead of 15 minutes – is that too much to ask?”

Reporting by ANP

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