Employee participation and industrial relations
In 2022, consultations with employee representatives and trade unions - in addition to regular consultations and regular procedures for advice and approval - were dominated by several major societal themes, such as labour market issues and the exceptionally high inflation rate. We also discussed several themes that are specific to NS:
NS held periodic consultations with the Central Works Council on the process towards a new transport franchise for the main rail network from 2025 and comprehensive regulation of the rail market.
Employee participation bodies, trade unions and NS discussed temporary measures taken in response to capacity issues. The objective is to reduce work pressure and prevent any further adjustments to the timetable. NS also consulted with the employee participation bodies and trade unions about a temporary alternative deployment model for main guards. Among other things, this involves the deployment of security officers to provide double staffing in our trains.
A new CLA
In May 2022, NS started consultations with the trade unions on a new CLA. Again, key topics for discussion included high work pressure, the high inflation rate and labour market shortages. In August and September 2022, NS employees did not work on six days following an appeal by the unions. When NS and the unions resumed their negotiations, they ultimately agreed on a new CLA following the union members’ approval. The new CLA contains important agreements on a range of issues, such as wage developments relative to inflation rates, pension accrual, inclusiveness and work pressure.
Message from the Central Works Council
The Central Works Council saw the number of challenges confronting NS increase in 2022. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing travel behaviours and the increasing popularity of working from home are just some of the factors that caused NS to carry fewer passengers than it would have wished. The situation is very serious, and gave cause for the deputy Chair and CEO to emphasise his concerns in a speech to all colleagues. Everybody understood the message.
The Dutch population is ageing, and NS is feeling the effects of that. Combined with the impact of the pandemic, this has resulted in shortages on the labour market and a large number of vacancies at NS. One of those vacancies was for the position of CEO; fortunately, after a highly appreciated temporary deputy chairmanship by the CFO, we managed to find a suitable candidate in the short term.
Likewise, the results of the employee perception survey reflect the impact of the staff shortages and high levels of sickness absence. Not surprisingly, reducing work pressure is one of the key challenges for the period ahead. 2022 was a busy year with lots of dossiers - from the purchase of new rolling stock to policy documents on employee vitality and diversity.
With a view to the future, NS also embarked on the process towards a new main rail network franchise. This should ensure, among other things, that all the above challenges will ultimately bring satisfactory results.
The employee participation bodies are confident that we will be able to complete this task successfully, in collaboration with all parties involved.
On behalf of the Central Works Council,
Bas Kuperus, chair