Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has gone to court in an effort to have this weekend’s strike action by police ruled illegal.
Police unions have called on officers to take part in what it says is ‘the most severe strike action ever‘ by refusing to answer all but emergency calls over a three-day period. Police stations will be shut and there will be no police support available for sports and other events, the unions say.
Grapperhaus told an emergency court hearing on Tuesday the strike would form an unacceptable risk to both public order and public safety. ‘You and I cannot permit ourselves to make concessions to the safety of the Netherlands and the safety of the police,’ he told the judging panel.
The minister said he understood that police officers want to strike but that in this case the risks are too great.
Police unions said they do not plan to water down their campaign. ‘We consider that we are right to campaign for a safer Netherlands and a better pay deal,’ Jan Struijs, head of the Nederlandse Politiebond said. ‘We have taken guaranteeing citizens’ safety into account with this campaign.’
Police unions have been in dispute with Grapperhaus and police chief Erik Akerboom for several months about a new pay and conditions agreement. They feel officers are not paid enough and there is too much pressure at work in part due to structural staff shortages.
Officers have taken part in various protests over the summer. These have included stopping handing out fines for minor offences and short all-out strikes at certain locations.
The weekend strike, if it goes ahead, could lead to several Eredivisie fixtures being cancelled, the Dutch football association KNVB said on Wednesday afternoon.
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