No trains as rail operators strike over pay
17 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — All train services in the Netherlands have been cancelled on Friday due to industrial action by staff at track administrator ProRail.
17 June 2005
AMSTERDAM — All train services in the Netherlands have been cancelled on Friday due to industrial action by staff at track administrator ProRail.
The strike began at 3am and is scheduled to continue until 11pm on Friday night.
Dutch rail NS and regional train companies Syntus and NoordNed have warned passengers that none of their services will run during the strike. ProRail operates the signals and switching systems on the rail network.
There were reports in the early morning that some ProRail staff had reported for work, but a majority of its team leaders appear to have answered the call from their union to down tools.
The dispute was sparked by ProRail's final offer of a 2.75 percent wage rise for 2005-2006 in talks over a new CAO pay and work conditions agreement. The unions have demanded 4.75 percent.
Consumer groups and train companies have reacted angrily to the strike and argued that one million passengers should not have to suffer because of the pay dispute.
The unions counter that ProRail staff have no other means of putting pressure on the company to come up with a better pay offer.
The last NS train left Rotterdam for Utrecht at 1.59 on Friday morning. Although the strike is to end at 11pm, NS says it will not be able to get its first services back on track until 1am on Saturday morning.
There is a small point of light at the end of the tunnel for train commuters. They can seek financial compensation from the NS, even though this is not a legal entitlement. NS has said that passengers with travel cards or pre-bought tickets for Friday can seek a portion of their money back.
They can also claim up to EUR 25 back for expenses incurred by using other forms of transport, such as taxis.
Students with a public transport week pass, or OV-weekkaart, are entitled to travel free on trains on Saturday morning up to midday.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news