NS seeks damages following strike
9 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Rail NS has demanded EUR 400,000 in compensation from trade union FNV Bondgenoten, which staged a public transport strike on 14 October this year.
To ward off extended disruptions to the NS timetable as a result of the strike, the rail operator cancelled all train traffic to and from The Hague. The NS is demanding the union compensate it for lost income and extra costs.
The rail operator said it would not accept intentional disruptions to its railway timetable. The NS also pointed out that it warned the FNV before the strike that it would seek compensation if the industrial action went ahead.
But the FNV union was not impressed by the compensation claim and has refused to pay. “This claim is absolutely hopeless,” director Andries van den Berg said. “This is already the third time I have read about it. I dare the NS to take this to court.”
Van den Berg also said the FNV had abided by strike regulations, but the NS claimed it was “incorrect, unjust and irresponsible” of the union to stage railway strike action in protest against the government’s budget.
In reaction, Van den Berg said personnel were permitted to take action against the government, particularly when they are affected by the cuts. He said the October strike was such an occasion.
About 600 members of the FNV Bondgenoten staged stop work action in The Hague on 14 October. The NS cancelled all train traffic to and from nation’s political capital until 10am.
The stoppage was part of industrial action led by trade union federation FNV industrial in protest against the government’s massive economising drive.
The Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 Cabinet has cut EUR 5.7 billion from next year’s budget and plans to cut EUR 17 billion between now and 2007.
The FNV demanded extra concessions leading up to annual CAO labour agreements talks between the cabinet, employers and unions in The Hague. The discussions took place on the day of the 14 October strike.
But the NS cancellation of train travel did not lead to the expected chaos. Much of the 20,000 people who use public transport to and from The Hague made other travel arrangements.
The NS defended itself by saying that if it had not shut down all train travel, the Randstad timetable would have been seriously disrupted for several more hours, an NOS news report said.
Despite the industrial action, the FNV and Christian trade union federation CNV have agreed to a two-year wage freeze in exchange for government concessions on early retirements schemes, WW unemployment benefits and WAO disability pensions.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news