|Empty buses today|
On Tuesday there was a national strike in the public transport sector in the Netherlands. A strike to focus people's attention on the retirement age which is being put up to 67 (and beyond) and they want it frozen at 66. Fair enough.
I am a member of a union. I was before I left for Norway, I was in Norway and I have recently become a member again here in the Netherlands. I think it's important as it has done so much for working people in the past and will hopefully continue to do so in the future.
I drove my bus on Tuesday. On a public transport route. Me and my colleagues were the only ones. We were not busy at all. At some point somebody who cycled towards me made no-no-no movements with his hands. I shouldn't have been driving, I should have been on strike.
The thing is however, I don't work for the public transport company, I work for a coach company and they were not on strike. Which would have meant I would have had a hard time getting strike money. Besides, did I completely agree with what they were striking about?
Well, no. Yes, the age of retirement should not go up indefinitely. Personally I think 67 is fine or 66 for that matter if they do get that sorted. But the fact of the matter is that it will be most likely that I will have to work beyond that anyway to get any sort of decent pension. What with me having worked abroad, I have what they call over here a pension deficit. I am still not sure I will be getting any money from Norway, I know for a fact that I won't be getting anything from the UK.
But even that is not what is causing the biggest deficit. It's the fact that I work for a temping agency. If I work, I save up for the state pension. If I don't work, I don't save. There are apparently more jobs than applicants right now, yet it is still very hard to get a steady job. Which in turn influences my pension, my ability to get a loan, my ability to get a mortgage, my ability even to rent certain homes.
I also don't know from one week to the next how many hours I will be making or how much money will show up in my bank account. It makes life very uncertain and I am not the only one. Several of my colleagues have lost their jobs (downsizing a favourite reason) recently and have had to retrain as a bus driver. They are at the bottom of the pay grades (I am at the top, which is at least one good thing). They do have mortgages, families, obligations. But no certainty about their pay check.
I don't want to work until I am 69 or beyond. But I feel that the unions would serve a lot more people a lot better with a fight over temporary work and how long that is allowed. Jus' saying...