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Dirty Amsterdam

DutchAmsterdam.nl — The picturesque canals and tree-lined streets of Amsterdam are not as postcard-perfect as usual after garbage collectors went on strike Thursday in demand of higher wages.

Trash collector in cities throughout the Netherlands have gone on strike off and on since February.

The current strike in Amsterdam is scheduled to last through May 12, but could well be extended.

The strike means that streets are not swept, and bins and underground containers are not being emptied. There is also no door-to-door garbage collection.

The workers are on strike because they have worked for over a year without a collective agreement (CAO).

They demand that, as a minimum, their purchasing power will be preserved.

In essence that would mean a 1.5 percent wage increase. Their employers — the 430 individual municipalities in the Netherlands — instead want to hold on to the so-called nullijn – a zero percent increase.

The reason they insist on observing the nullijn is that the government must cut back its expenditures significantly over the next few years.

The government has already told the municipalities it will not contribute to any wage increases.

The Association of Netherlands Municipalities is negotiating the terms of a new CAO with trade unions.

Trash collectors are civil servants and if they succeed in their demands other civil servants will also benefit from the higher wages.


The municipal cleaning service will, by exception, clean the routes for the GIRO Tour of Italy bicycle race.

The City of Amsterdam spent €5 million organizing the event, expecting that broadcasters and news organizations will beam beautiful pictures of Amsterdam throughout the world — encouraging more people to visit Amsterdam.
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