TNT unions to strike next week over labour talks

Trade unions at TNT NV will step up the pressure on the Dutch mail company with one-day strikes next week to back their demand for a 3.5 percent wage rise, a union leader said.

“Workers in The Hague will go on strike on Wednesday and workers in Amsterdam on Friday,” union director Anneke Stevens told Reuters.

She said this will be followed by industrial action in the different areas, culminating in a countrywide strike on May 27.

TNT, Europe’s second-largest mail company, said its workers are paid 20 to 25 percent more than market rates and has offered a 1.5 percent wage increase retroactive to April 1.

It had originally sought a pay freeze, seeking to cut costs and compete better with rivals. It is targeting cost savings of 395 million euros (USD 625.3 million) between 2007 and 2015. TNT also proposed a 1.5 percent rise on Jan. 1, 2009, conditional on changing employment conditions.

The company, which is expected to lose its monopoly in the domestic market this year, has said that without changes to employment terms, it may have to cut up to 11,000 from its Dutch workforce of 59,000.

TNT, which has steadily lost market share to rivals Sandd and Deutsche Post’s Selekt Mail, earlier on Wednesday urged unions to continue labour talks. Unions had set an April 16 deadline for the company to meet their demands.

It said the issue was not the salary levels but rather clarity on a future collective labour agreement that is in line with the market.

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