The FNV labor union confirmed on Monday that Dutch railway workers will proceed with several 24-hours strikes starting from Wednesday, August 24th through the end of the month.
The first region to be affected will be the Northern Netherlands: “That is now final. As far as we are concerned, there will not be any trains in the region from 4 a.m. to 4 a.m.,” said a union spokesperson.
On Wednesday it will be thus very difficult, if not impossible, to hop on a train to or from Groningen, Leeuwarden, Lelystad, Zwolle, and Onnen.
More strikes will follow in different parts of the country:
- On Friday 26th it will be the turn of the West of the Netherlands, with a forecast of increased train traffic in Rotterdam and little to no trains traveling around The Hague and Dordrecht.
- Monday 29 will see major disruptions in the North-West. It is expected that all train traffic throughout North Holland – including Amsterdam – will come to a halt, affecting also international trains.
- On Tuesday 30 the strike will start in the Central region, with disruptions in Utrecht and Amersfoort.
- Finally, the last strike day will be Wednesday 31, with NS workers halting service in the east of the Netherlands (Zutphen, Hengelo, Enschede, Arnhem and Nijmegen) and the south (Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg).
Even if the strikes will hit different regions on different days, travelers’ organization Rover is urging people all over the Netherlands to stay home on the days of disruption. “Otherwise, you run the risk of getting stuck somewhere. Play it safe, to prevent that you end up on a platform somewhere and have no way out,” said Rover Director Freek Bos to De Telegraaf.
FNV and the other unions are fully blaming NS for letting things escalate.
The series of strikes were announced after negotiations for a new and improved collective labor agreement between unions and NS failed earlier this month. Railway workers are asking for automatic compensation for price increases to be built into the salary of NS employees, and they also requested a one-off bonus payment of 600 euros and an adjustment to the early retirement scheme.
Unions have already announced that if they won’t be able to make NS bow to their requests and reach a satisfying agreement, the next step will be a nationwide strike. NS has let know that “the door is open” to further negotiations, reported the NL Times, but the situation remains tense.
Tension is also running high among different striking groups. In the Netherlands, unions must announce strikes at least 48 hours in advance, so railway union VVMC was disappointed that FNV released details of the regional strikes already at the end of last week.
While it is difficult to estimate exactly the level of cancellations and delays – and unions at this point want to play with their cards closer to their chest -, ticket platform Treinreiziger.nl is expecting NS workers’ willingness to take action to be very high.