The staff at 64 hospital locations in the Netherlands will go on strike on March 16. The 24-hour strike will begin at 8 a.m., and only emergency care will be provided, said labor unions FNV and CNV. The unions want an increase in wages, an additional monthly bonus, and more compensation for irregular hours and on-call time.
“We notice that the anger among employees is enormous,” said Elise Merlijn from FNV. “The employees feel left out in the cold. All that is being asked is to maintain purchasing power and reduce the workload, so that the groceries can be paid for and the wonderful work that is being done is sustained.”
For the most part, staffing levels scaled down similar to what would be expected on a Sunday. However, the number of departments participating in the strike will differ per hospital.
The union said the Antoni van Leeuwhoek Hospital in Amsterdam will see the staff of 48 departments walk off the job for the first time ever. Workers from 48 departments will also walk out of the Spaarne Gasthuis hospitals in Haarlem and Hoofddorp combined, while 33 departments will stop working that day at the Wilhelmina hospital in Assen.
At the bargaining table, the FNV, CNV, NU’91, and FBZ labor unions demanded a 10 percent wage increase for the one year contract, plus an additional hundred euros per month. They want everyone who works irregular hours to receive additional pay regardless of their current hourly wage, and a significant increase in payment for on-call services. Additionally, they want workers to be compensated if they have to use public transportation, and an increase in mileage allowance for those commuting with their own vehicles. The unions also want the employees to have more say in the scheduling process.
Previously, the association of Dutch hospitals NVZ said they want to negotiate further, but that they cannot meet the unions’ demands. They were taken by surprise when the union issued an ultimatum last month. “And that while we had made constructive progress under external guidance. Labor actions are extremely disproportionate in relation to the final offer of 13% (wage increase) in 2 years’ time,” said NVZ chairman Ad Melkert.
The collective bargaining agreement for hospitals covers over 200,000 employees in 65 hospitals and 14 rehabilitation centers. The four unions joined together to announce on February 21 that they expected strikes to take place. When they made the announcement, it was not yet clear when the first strike would take place.