If rail company NS has its way, its staff will receive no wage increases in the next two years. The rail company is taking that stance at the start of its talks with the unions on an “employment pact” to deal with the coronavirus crisis, sources told RTL Z. Scrapping wage increases is one cost saving measures with which NS hopes to prevent forced layoffs.
The Dutch rail company, like other transport and travel businesses, was hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. For the first months of the crisis, many employees worked from home and public transport was reserved only for absolutely necessary trips. This resulted in a massive decrease in passenger numbers for the rail company. At the end of June, NS announced that it expects to feel the consequences of this crisis for at least 5 years, and that it has to reduce its workforce by around 13 percent – cutting 2,300 jobs.
The rail company promised to avoid forced layoffs as much as possible in exchange for “flexibility” from it staff, and that is why NS is now talking to the unions. An estimated 2,500 NS employees will retire by 2025. If the employees whose job is at risk can be convinced to move to these jobs, there will be no layoffs. Though that could mean that transferred employees may need to work in different locations, or at different times. They may also need to be retrained.
NS therefore wants to ask its staff to refrain from salary increases, to help pay for this reorganization, according to RTL. The company wants to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by two years, with “the current wage scales not rising”, NS’s plans say.
Trade unions FNV and CNV refused to respond to the broadcaster, saying they want to talk to NS first.