Security accord appeases striking bus drivers
6 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Zaandam bus drivers returned to work on Tuesday afternoon, but not before an estimated 10,000 commuters were left stranded by a strike called in reaction to the stabbing of a colleague worker by an irate passenger.
About 25 drivers stopped work on Tuesday morning. Mainly those people wishing to travel to Amsterdam were affected by the strike, but most commuters seemed to be adequately informed and very few were seen waiting for buses.
Connexxion bus drivers demanded and received improved safety measures in response to the stabbing, which occurred at about 8pm on Monday at a bus stop on the Poelenburg in Zaandam, north of Amsterdam.
A 63-year-old Zaandam passenger became unruly and refused to pay and a 53-year-old Zaandam bus driver, who went to assist his colleague, was stabbed twice by the passenger. The culprit was arrested and has since confessed to the stabbing, NOS News reported.
The severely injured victim was taken to the Free University hospital in Amsterdam, where he underwent surgery. The man is expected to recover, news agency ANP reported.
In response to the stabbing, about 60 bus drivers initially resolved to stage a wildcat strike at about 9pm on Monday.
The strike did not officially start until Tuesday morning and received backing from union FNV Bondgenoten, which claimed Connexxion had failed to fulfill promises to improve security in recent years.
No regional buses left the Zaandam area or travelled between Zaandam and Amsterdam as early morning talks on Tuesday failed to resolve the dispute. About 25 drivers scheduled to work this morning refused to do so.
But an agreement reached in the afternoon means that security cameras will be installed in all buses, the ticket centre in Zaandam will remain open, six extra security jobs will be created and advertisements on the back of the city’s buses will be removed.
Connexxion also intends to speak with the police about placing a higher priority on the reporting of nuisance incidents on buses and plans are being formulated to employ a security coordinator executive.
Bus drivers initially demanded a 100 percent safety guarantee, something that Connexxion claims it cannot give. “You cannot rule out that some people walk around with knives,” a company spokesman said.
Several violent incidents also occurred in the Zaandam region last year, with bus drivers suffering injuries ranging from a black eye through to general bruising.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news