Dutch TNT-Post workers prefer salary over solidarity - November 24, 2009

Over 60 percent of trade union members at the Dutch TNT Post voted in a poll for retention of current salary and other perks in stead of job security for three years, three unions announced on Monday. At the AbvaKabo FNV, the largest union, the percentage was 64%.

In May this year the union members rejected the result of negotiations between TNT Post and the trade unions for a 15 percent salary reduction in exchange for three years of job security. 

TNT Post is expected to shed 11,000 jobs, 5,000 possibly forced redundancies. 

The Netherlands are no exceptions as the Royal Mail in the UK is preparing for a possible Christmas strike and industrial action has become a feature in postal services worldwide. 

The Netherlands might be slightly ahead of a worldwide crisis in postal services, as the market for letters has reduced dramatically, because the connectivity to the internet in the Netherlands is one of the best in Europe. 

For time-critical deliveries the traditional postal services already faced stiff competition from other courier services like DHL, Federal Express and UPS

In the Netherlands - like in many other countries - TNT Post also lost its monopoly on delivering normal post, but the structural eradication of much of the need for postal services is hitting both TNT Post and its competitors equally hard. 

Varying per country, traditional postal services try to survive by additional services, like delivering newspapers, commercial information or offering financial services, but more focused competitors can deliver those services often better than the postal services. 

The mostly privatized postal services have been trying to survive by cutting costs, by reducing post offices and the frequency of postal delivery below the bare minimum, but there is of course a limit. As banks, utilities, governments and companies increasingly use the internet to communicate with their customers over the internet, the point where postal services become redundant is coming closer. 

Trade union member at TNT Post in the Netherlands have voted with their feet. A weekly or even bi-weekly in stead of a daily delivery of post has become an option and mass dismissals would be hard to avoid in the longer run anyway.

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