Posted On 04 Feb 2014Comment: Off
auctions_clocks_naaldwijk4AALSMEER, the Netherlands: FloraHolland and Dutch trade unions appear as far away as ever from resolving dispute.
The Dutch flower auction FloraHolland faces the threat of days of paralysing strikes from Thursday after it rejected a last-ditch ultimatum from unions to meet their demand for better protection in the collective redundancy situation FloraHolland workers find themselves in. The issue at stake is a ‘social plan’ that includes compensations that were previously established by FloraHolland.
The trade unions FNV and CNV had warned that unless FloraHolland agreed by Tuesday February 4th to the ‘deal’ on offer, it would go ahead with ‘action’. FloraHolland responded by saying the unions are “stubbornly sticking to their demand that the former social plan in its totality must be the basis for the new one. FloraHolland has invited the unions several times to discuss this point and come to a new agreement, but the unions have still not responded. We are very disappointed.”
The two sides tonight appeared as far as ever from resolving the dispute, with little chance of averting a strike. FloraHolland had been given until 12:00 on Tuesday to agree with a social plan ‘old style ‘ that expired in July 2013.
In a press statement, the FNV and CNV said today that the workers are ready for action. A union source said the first strike is set to go ahead on Thursday night into Friday morning and will be planned to cause disruption, with delivery staff taking action causing auctionwide chaos. In addition, workers will organise a whistle-blowing rally on the work floor to express their frustration and anger with the decisions of the auction’s board of directors.
FloraHolland is now making the necessary arrangements to ensure that the logistic processes can continue if the unions embark on strike. “We are taking all possible steps to support sufficient processing capacity for the supply during the busy Valentine’s Day period. FloraHolland will inform its growers and buyers in the next few days about concrete steps and measures so their operational management will encounter the least amount of difficulty,” said an auction’s spokesman.
According to FloraHolland the announced strike defies logic. “The threat of actions is irresponsible for our employees, the company and the sector. In this period, all parties realise a considerable proportion of their annual income,” according to the director, Rens Buchwaldt. “I am very aware that the organisational changes could have major personal consequences for our employees. We are taking these decisions to ensure a healthy FloraHolland in the future for our staff, growers and dealers.”
Meanwhile, FloraHolland’s Work’s Council spoke again to management and unions to try and seek further resolution. It urges them “to do their utmost to come to a mutually agreed Social Plan as quickly as possible.”
The dispute between FloraHolland and its workforce stems from October 2013 when the auction announced streamlining of its operations. The KOMPAS restructuring plan includes the consolidation of existing clock units in Bleiswijk into a single florist auction in Naaldwijk and cost reduction actions including the cutback on quality inspectors and an approximate 5% reduction of the company’s workforce.