Sunday, 3 May 2015

Dutch union reclaims 1 May

On 1 May, thousands of people participated in an action for decent jobs organised by trade union FNV. It was the first time for the FNV to organise a large event on 1 May since the celebration of Queen’s Day was moved to 30 April in 1948 (as of this year, King’s Day is celebrated on 27 April). Chairman Ton Heerts said 1 May will from now on be a day of action.

The Netherlands is exceptional in that 1 May is not a holiday and there’s not much of a tradition to celebrate 1 May. Over the past years there have been local initiatives to revive the 1 May tradition, including support actions for the cleaners’ campaign in Amsterdam.

Some examples of actions last Friday:
  • A petition was launched (sign here) against austerity and for quality and decent jobs in the health care sector. Within a day, over 10,000 people have already signed the petition.
  • Hundreds of police cars sounded their sirens in support for a better collective agreement.
  • The youth campaign Young & United was present at the 1 May action. Young & United is protesting against the youth wages in the Netherlands, which are among the lowest in Europe and allow multinationals like Ahold and McDonalds to add dozens of millions of euros to their profits.
  • There was an action of students and staff at the University of Amsterdam. An occupation of the main university building has already resulted in more student participation and the chairwoman of the university stepping down. One of the issues that have not yet been result is the large share of precarious work among university staff.
  • The committee No to Forced Labour held an action at an Amsterdam store of Ahold-owned supermarket chain Albert Heijn. Ahold is among the employers exploiting unemployed workers who are forced to work without wages (Albert Heijn can be contacted here).
  • The Anarchist Group Amsterdam and the Vrije Bond launched a campaign and website to inform migrant workers of their labour rights.
  • Various institutions used 1 May to publish labour-related news. Minister Lodewijk Asscher announced that the national government will insource its cleaners by early 2016. The city of The Hague announced it will stop using unpaid unemployed workers and that it will offer labour contracts to 260 people who are currently cleaning the streets without pay. Statistics Netherlands published new data on strikes, showing that half the strike days in 2014 can be attributed to actions of the cleaners. They also quoted ETUI data confirming that the Netherlands has one of the lowest strike rates in Europe.
    Photo via Ron Meyer

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    Cynthia Corvin said...
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