Bus strike talks called off, courts involved

Informal talks scheduled for Monday afternoon between unions and employers and aimed at bringing an end to the nine-day bus strike were called off on Monday morning, a source told news service ANP.

At the same time, public transport users body Rover and Groningen provincial council said they will go to court on Tuesday to ask judges to order striking bus drivers back to work.
‘As a province, we feel that an all-out strike like this is hurting school pupils and the elderly unfairly,’ a spokeswoman for the provincial council told news agency ANP.
Unions and employers were due to discuss the advice given on Friday by former Labour minister Klaas de Vries. His proposals included lightening the load for the bus companies by allowing them temporarily to buy cheaper diesel plus a short-term ‘bridging’ agreement on terms and conditions.
Bus companies pleaded with the unions at the weekend to suspend their industrial action while talks took place. CNV union negotiator Wyb Kusters responded by saying the employers are ‘desperate’ and that a solution lies in their hands, Monday’s Volkskrant reported.
The unions are demanding a 3.5% pay rise, which Kusters says is left intact in De Vries’ recommendations. Employers have now offered 5% over two years and an extra 3% in return for more flexible working patterns and fewer holidays.
The strike effects large parts of the country but not the major cities. Some one million people use the buses every day.

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