The railways have ground to a halt today as staff stage another strike in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.
As many as 16,000 members of the FNV Spoor, VVMC and CNV unions at the NS national railway company walked out for 24 hours Friday, after union leaders rejected a new offer from NS, which they described as “insufficient”. The state-owned company, which runs Dutch rail infrastructure and most of its big stations, on Tuesday offered a 5% pay rise for the second half of 2022 and a one-time bonus, followed by a possible 2.5% salary increase next year.
“Looking at all the options and the experiences of the previous strike days, we see no possibility to run a schedule in a responsible, reliable and safe way,” NS said in its statement. “This means that unfortunately, on Friday September 9, there will be no NS trains running all day in the Netherlands. The R-net between Alphen aan den Rijn and Gouda does run,” the company continued.
The strike has also affected Thalys, Eurostar and Benelux trains taking passengers to the Netherlands. Regional public transport workers in Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe are striking, too. However, Arriva services have not been reduced, according to RTV Noord. Arriva drivers and conductors are covered by a different collective labor agreement CAO than that of their NS colleagues.
The train replacement bus between Groningen and Leer is running as usual.
Some of the Qbuzz bus drivers, members of the FNV union, have also backed the industrial action. FNV director Edwin Kuiper expects that bus services in the northern provinces will be reduced approximately by half Friday.
It is impossible to say in advance which routes will be canceled, bus operators warn. According to Qbuzz, travel planners are likely to be less reliable than usual, because the carrier does not know in advance who is working and who is not. “Plan your trip shortly before departure and leave well in advance. If you have the opportunity, we suggest you opt for alternative transport during the strike day,” Qbuzz said.
Talks between NS and labor unions are expected to resume Saturday.