8,000 Dutch postal workers strike over downsizing

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About 8,000 striking postal workers protested in The Hague Tuesday against plans by Dutch-based international postal and courier company TNT to retrench 3,100 staff.

"We do not agree with the 3,100 retrenchments -- it is possible to reduce that figure," Abvakabo labour union spokeswoman Ilse van der Poel told AFP.

The cuts could instead be made through natural attrition, such as retirement, she said.

Police estimated about 8,000 people joined the protest outside TNT's headquarters, spokeswoman Annemarie de Mooij told AFP.

TNT and its staff are at loggerheads over the company's plans to reduce its full-time workforce by 11,000, including 3,100 forced retrenchments, in a cost-cutting drive.

No post was delivered in the Netherlands on Tuesday, except for medical documents and death notices, TNT said.

The workers would resume their action on November 25 and 26 "if management does not give heed to our demands," said Van der Poel.

The head of TNT's postal branch, Harry Koorstra, told public television the company would be willing to consider "creative" solutions and re-negotiate the collective labour agreement.

TNT Post saw volumes drop 7.7 percent in the previous quarter due to the liberalisation of the Dutch market last year and competition from the Internet.

TNT, which employs about 160,000 people in the world, plans to split its two core operations, post and express delivery, into two new companies by January 2011.

© 2010 AFP

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