Rail strikes in Netherlands cancelled as parties find common ground
The strikes that were supposed to be held by rail workers in the Netherlands this week have been cancelled, because trade union FNV Spoor and ProRail have negotiated a new collective labor agreement. The members of the trade union still have to agree to this, but on Thursday rail operations run as normal. This is to the relieve of rail freight operators, who feared a week of disturbances.
Rail traffic was slightly disturbed on Wednesday morning, because protests took place at air traffic control stations in the regions of Utrecht, Amsterdam and Alkmaar. There were no trains in those regions between 6 AM and 8 AM, but this affected passenger traffic. Strikes were also planned for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which have now been canceled for the time being.
ProRail, FNV Spoor, CNV Vakmensen and VHS Rail professionals started collective negotiations in October last year. On 1 March, ProRail made a final offer, to which CNV Vakmensen and VHS RailProfessionals agreed. They did set additional requirements about the ‘Early Retirement Scheme’.
FNV’s supporters, however, rejected the offer, after which the association issued an ultimatum to ProRail. The unions and the infrastructure manager disagreed, among other things, about the amount of the wage increase and the term of the collective labour agreement. FNV wants a structural salary increase of 2.8 per cent for this year. ProRail wants a collective labor agreement that runs until 1 July 2023 and offers a structural wage increase of 2 per cent for this year and next year and of 1 per cent for 2023.
The union and ProRail are now finalising the details of the agreement. Michiel Boer of FNV Spoor: “It is now up to the members. If they approve the agreement, a new collective labor agreement will be reached and all strikes canceled.”
RailGood director Hans Willem-Vroon is relieved that the strikes “that affected carriers, shippers, terminals and travelers have been suspended”. At the same time, he says he hopes that the carriers “will not have to cough up this salary increase via the track access charges”. “RailGood is counting on ProRail to absorb the extra costs itself and not pass them on to freight transporters and their customers in this already economically difficult period,” says Vroon.