CNV members during strike. Photo for illustration.Photo: CNV

In the context of the crisis in student transport – which was debated yesterday in the House of Representatives – far too little attention has been paid to a of the biggest underlying problems, namely working conditions. At least, that’s what CNV Vakmensen says. The union calls this lousy and believes that this should change.

“We are talking about one of the worst collective labor agreements in the Netherlands,” says collective labor agreement negotiator Rick Pellis of CNV Vakmensen. “No wonder there is a staff shortage. People are running away in droves to better jobs.”

Failing system Pellis finds it distressing that passengers in student and care transport are the victims of a ‘totally failing system’. “Municipal authorities want to arrange transport as cheaply as possible. Transporters then fight each other to win the contract, for a price that is just out of reach – if not at all. Employees in the industry pay the toll for that.”

The CNV negotiator, who has recently become responsible for the taxi industry, continues to be amazed at the working conditions in the sector. “It is almost unbelievable that this is still possible in the year . The drivers earn just above minimum wage. If the wheels don’t turn or if a ride goes down, they are cut off their salary. We are really talking about the lower end of the labor market here. Something has to be done about that. The taxi industry as a whole must move to a higher level, with a decent wage and better working conditions. Otherwise it will never be possible to fill all those hundreds of vacancies.”

Lack of appreciation Pellis is of the opinion that the employers, united in KNV Zorgvoer and Taxi, pay far too little attention to this. “KNV rightly points out that government tenders could be improved by combining transport requirements. That would indeed be much better, then only one carrier would be responsible. But KNV completely ignores the root of the problem: the lack of appreciation and poor remuneration of the employees. If that doesn’t get better, I’m in a bad mood. Then the misery is far from over for all those people who depend on this transport.”

Misplaced Bertho Eckhardt, chairman of KNV, does not agree with the statements of CNV negotiator Pellis. “We are in the middle of collective bargaining. This type of communication naturally fits into a certain strategy. I think we should just limit it to what it should be about, namely to achieve good working conditions for the drivers. We all think that is very important, including us as employers. I therefore think it is a bit out of place to link this issue one-on-one to student transport.”

Last Friday, the employers put their final final offer on the table and even attached a ultimatum to it. The unions have until Tuesday 19 October to respond to the employers’ final offer.

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