In 2005, there were 28 strikes in the Netherlands, over twice as many as in 2004. As a result, nearly 42 thousand working days were lost. One in three strikes involved collective bargaining negotiations.
Highest number of labour disputes since 1991
In 2005, there were 28 labour disputes leading to strike actions, the highest number since 1991. Many strike actions occurred in the fourth quarter of 2005, for instance in the sectors manufacturing industry and business services.
Labour disputes, 1985–2005
Number of working days lost down by one third
Despite the fact that the number of registered strike actions was much higher in 2005, the number of working days lost was 42 thousand which is lower than in 2004, when 62 thousand working days were lost.
The number of working days lost as a result of strike actions varies considerably from year to year: from 9 thousand in 2000 (23 labour disputes) to no less than 245 thousand in 2002 (16 labour disputes). The construction sector accounted for over 91 percent of labour days lost in 2002. The massive strike in the construction sector was caused by a deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations.
Working days lost due to labour disputes, 1996–2005
One in three strike actions involve collective bargaining
One third of labour disputes in 2005 dealt with collective bargaining negotiations between trade unions and employers’ organisations. In nearly half of cases, the disputes were related to reorganisation processes or loss of jobs due to shutdowns, relocation of production sites or replacements of current staff by ‘low-cost’ workers.
Over one fifth of labour disputes in 2005 dealt with terms of employment not mentioned in collective labour agreements, working hours or wage issues. The share of these types of labour disputes has not been so large since 1999.
Reasons to go on strike, 1999–2005
Not all strikes organised by trade unions
Strike actions are usually assumed to be initiated by trade unions. Yet, this is not always the case. In 2005, for example, only 17 out of 28 strike actions were called by trade unions. Once a wildcat strike has begun, however, it is difficult for trade unions not to be actively involved. Strikes not officially approved by a trade union are generally smaller, both with respect to working days lost and number of workers involved.
Jo van Cruchten and Rob Kuijpers