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Cleaners at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport continue strike

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Roughly 400 out of 700 cleaners at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport are on strike. They are demanding compensation for travel costs, regular work, more breaks, ‘more respect’ and an end to ‘intimidation by managers’ who criticize them for striking.

The cleaners, who work for six cleaning companies contracted by the airport, have been on strike since yesterday morning. The companies took the FNV trade union federation to court to try to prevent the 24-hour strike, but on Monday the judge ruled it could go ahead.

FNV manager Ron Meyer says that one of the cleaning firms, Asito, has hired fourteen temporary workers, which he says “is illegal” and “oil on the fire.”

Metin Karaslan of Asito denies the use of strikebreakers, but Meyer says the use of the temp workers has made the cleaners more determined. “Employers are not negotiating. We are asking €4 per day travel compensation, but they are offering fifty cents.”

The use of strikebreakers violates the Allocation of Workers by Intermediates Act (WAADI), which includes a ban on so-called scabs. The Arbeidsinspectie (Labour Inspectorate) can not sanction the companies, but FNV demands disqualifies Asito.

The airport still looks relatively clean, in part because directors and managers of the cleaning companies are now doing the cleaning. Any mess you see has been caused by the strikers themselves, says a Schiphol spokeswoman.

The strike covers three shifts, which means not all cleaners are striking at the same time. According to Meyer the fact that 25 airplane cleaners have joined the strikes has resulted in some delays.

This afternoon the cleaners will decide whether their protest will continue on Thursday. Meanwhile Ron Meyer says something ‘spectacular’ is to take place on Wednesday afternoon, but he would not provide any details.

Update: Shortly after 2 pm, a few dozen demonstrators occupied the offices of cleaning company CSU.

The cleaners say that CSU was targeted because like cleaning firm Asito it currently sends temporary workers to Schiphol who do not normally work there.

The Labour Inspectorate is checking into the claims.

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This post was last updated: Sep. 18, 2011