SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Thousands of workers who should get a pay rise on July 1 will have to wait ‘months’ instead, as dozens of businesses agree with unions to delays because of the coronavirus crisis, public broadcaster NOS reports.
Among the biggest employers is flower auction FloraHolland whose 3,000 employees were to get a 2.5% rise on Tuesday but will now have to wait at least until October.
Combined with other measures, the postponement will cut expenses by at least €2m. ‘The business is in dire straits,’ a spokesman for FloraHolland told the broadcaster. ‘We hope to have better news for workers by October, but nothing is certain yet.’
Unions have been reluctant to agree to the delays because pay rises are often hard won and future pay rises are not certain, NOS said. Less pay also means that workers get less unemployment benefits if they should be fired in the near future, unions point out.
In the Netherlands, most pay agreements are negotiated collectively and applied across an entire industrial sector, although large firms tend to have their own, in-house deals.
Light engineering sector association Focwa has already managed to reach a deal with the unions to delay the pay rise due to come into effect in July to December. Some 19 businesses in the engineering and technology sectors are deferring a 3.5% pay raise for five months but are offering workers extra days off in compensation.
‘I had no qualms about it’, car repair shop worker Jan de Boer told NOS. ‘It helps the business to grow, that is the main thing.’ An unnamed food company employing 650 people is also expected to reach agreement with the union to postpone an agreed pay rise of 4%.
The FNV trade union federation said last week it is abandoning its across-the-board pay rise demand this year and will not look for a wage increase at all in sectors which have been hit by the coronavirus crisis.