06 April 2023, by Victoria Séveno

According to the latest figures, salaries agreed upon in collective labour agreements (cao) rose by an average of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2023 – the highest increase the Netherlands has seen in 40 years. 

Dutch salaries record highest increase seen in 40 years

Over the past several months, figures published by employers’ association AWVN have repeatedly shown that Dutch salaries were experiencing record growth. The latest figures published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) show that this trend has continued into 2023, with wages negotiated as part of collective labour agreements rising by an average of 5 percent in the first quarter of this year. 

5 percent may not sound like much, but CBS reports that it is in fact almost double the growth rate seen in the first three months of 2022, when salaries rose by an average of 2,7 percent. Indeed, a 5 percent increase marks the highest growth seen in the Netherlands in 40 years, according to the Dutch statistics office. 

Growth for Dutch salaries was higher than inflation in March

In March 2023 alone, the wages for workers covered by collective agreements rose by an average of 5,2 percent. Meanwhile, the latest inflation figures show the Dutch inflation rate fell to 4,4 percent, meaning salaries are rising faster than prices. In spite of this fact, however, the majority of workers continue to suffer from depreciating purchasing power.

“At the lowest point, the difference between inflation and wage growth was 7 to 8 percent,” CBS economist Peter Heven van Mulligan explained to NOS. “That is a huge blow. Things have improved somewhat since then, but for people who only have the collective labour agreement wage increase for their purchasing power, it means a considerable minus in purchasing power.”

Unions say more work is needed to protest purchasing power

While trade unions are pleased with the progress made, both the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) and the Christian National Trade Union (CNV) emphasise that, while the figures prove that recent actions such as the municipal strikes and hospital strikes have been successful, there’s still work to be done. “It is now a matter of quickly making up for the damage caused by the sky-high inflation of the past year,” FNV Vice-President Zakaria Boufangacha told NOS.

Thumb: TM creations via Shutterstock.com.

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