Business

Dutch judge rules Schiphol trains must run during strike

AFP-JIJI

A Dutch judge Sunday ruled against plans by the country’s largest trade union to allow train drivers serving Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol airport to join a country-wide strike.

Thousands of bus, train and tram drivers are expected strike on Tuesday in protest at government plans to raise the retirement age from 66 and to demand higher pension payments.

“Our right to call a 24-hour strike remains, with the exception of a limited number of trains running to and from Schiphol,” the FNV union said in a statement.

“There will be four trains an hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central station … in order to guarantee public order at the airport,” the FNV said.

Last year, Schiphol was Europe’s third-busiest airport, with 71.5 million passengers, behind London Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, according to figures by the Airports Council International Europe (ACI).

Apart from being the gateway to Amsterdam, Schiphol is also a major transit hub for flights from all around the globe.

The decision by the judge comes after negotiations between Schiphol Airport’s management and the FNV broke down earlier on Sunday “despite intensive talks,” the FNV said.

Schiphol, in a statement, warned of “traffic congestion, limited train access and no buses” during Tuesday’s strike.

“If you’re traveling to or from Schiphol Airport on 28 May, please note that traveling by train is limited and trains and stations will be crowded,” the airport said.

Although no figures are available, FNV spokeswoman Mariette van Dijk told AFP that “thousands of bus, train and tram drivers, as well as ferry boat captains” were expected to join the strike.

Tuesday’s day-long strike follows similar industrial action in March, when public transport was shut down for 66 minutes — symbolic of the current retirement age.

But the government led by business-friendly Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal VVD party accelerated plans to increase the etirement age to 67 years in 2021 and 67 years and three months in 2022.

“People are healthier and they live longer,” the Dutch government said on its pensions website.

“The higher life expectancy makes working for longer and a gradual increase in the state pension age possible,” the Dutch government said.