Dutch workers went out on strike 31 times in 2006. The number of working days lost was quite small: 16 thousand. Half the strikes were connected with collective labour agreements, privatisation or closures.
Increase in disputes
In 2006, 31 industrial disputes resulted in strike action. This is the highest number since 1989. In spite if this, 2006 cannot be characterised as a year of great industrial unrest. A total of 11 thousand workers were involved in industrial action in 2006; in 2005 this was 29 thousand, and in 2004 104 thousand.
Working days lost, workers involved and disputes
Fewer working days lost
At 16 thousand, the number of working days lost as a result of industrial action was substantially lower in 2006 than in preceding years. The number of days lost fluctuates strongly from year to year: from 9 thousand in 2000 to no fewer than 245 thousand in 2002. By far most of the working days lost in 2002 were the result of disputes in the construction sector.
Most strikes last less than a day
In 13 disputes, the duration of the strike was less than 1 day and in 17 cases it lasted 5 working days or longer. There were a few very long strikes, but as they involved only few workers relatively few working days were lost.
Industrial disputes by duration
Disputes for various reasons
Most working days are lost through disputes about privatisation or takeovers, and negotiations about collective labour agreements. Both these cost about 4.5 thousand working days. Strikes connected with closures cost 4 thousand working days.
Working days lost by reason for dispute
Most days lost in transport and communication
More than half the working days lost were in the transport and communication sector (8.3 thousand). Disputes in this sector concerned mainly bus and tram companies, and concerned among other things working hours, violent behaviour towards workers, privatisation and dissatisfaction with management. The manufacturing industry came second, with 6.3 thousand working days lost. In this sector the disputes were about reorganisations and job losses as a result of factory closures and outsourcing.
Jo van Cruchten en Rob Kuijpers