NS compensates traumatised train driver
3 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch rail operator NS has agreed to pay compensation to a train driver declared mentally unfit to work after witnessing nine suicides on the tracks over the course of his career.
An NS spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that an agreement had been reached with the lawyer representing the former employee, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Both parties also released a joint statement indicating that a suitable agreement had been reached, but the extent of the compensation was not revealed.
The driver — identified as Harm De Jong, 56 — saw nine people jump in front of his train over a period of 30 years. After the ninth suicide in July 2001, he was declared mentally unfit to work and has been receiving a WAO work disability pension since 2001.
The man claimed that the NS offered unsatisfactory psychiatric help and instead, he was urged after every incident to return to work as quickly as possible, public news service NOS reported.
He later lodged legal action demanding compensation and a district judge declared two years ago that the NS was liable for his psychiatric problems.
But the NS appealed against the ruling, claiming that it could not be blamed for suicides and that psychiatric damages do not come under an employer’s obligation of care. The appeal has since been dropped.
The driver’s lawyer, Yme Drost, is representing 14 other NS workers and will also demand compensation in their cases.
He expects the NS will come to a suitable arrangement because of the agreement made in the first case. He also claims a precedent was set with the judge’s ruling of two years ago.
Train workers union VVMC claims 150 drivers and conductors are presently not working due to aggression and witnessing suicides. But not all of them will demand compensation because a special insurance scheme was set up in 1999.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news