Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Transportation Strike

Note: I welcome corrections on this from any Dutch people. Naturally my knowledge of the local politics and economy is hampered by my inability to read Dutch.

Back when I lived in London, I was frustrated because the Tube drivers went on strike so often I started referring to them as Le Tube (a reference to the famous French tendency to strike at the drop of a hat). The leader of the Transport for London Union, Bob Crow, is a thoroughly despised man to many people in London, calling multiple strikes to protect pay and working conditions for transport drivers that many feel are unacceptable (new Tube drivers, who can be hired with no qualifications and start after a few weeks of training, make more money than my brother Greg, who's been a nurse with the NHS for 13 years).

Even more seldom.
Dutch Tram
Photo by Generaal Gibson
In moving to the Netherlands, I wasn't sad to leave Bob Crow's transportion system behind me. We had strikes yesterday, but unlike the Bob Crow strikes, these seem reasonable. The Dutch transport minister, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, has decided that we're spending too much money on transportation. Currently Amsterdam spends €122 million on transportation, but she wants this by by a whopping €75 million (article in Dutch and I may have misunderstood bits after translation). However, I note that her political party, the VVD, is apparently very concerned that the private market rule supreme. Even if cutting Amsterdam transportation spending by 60% were feasible, doing it practically overnight is a disaster. I thought anyone with even basic economic knowledge would be smart enough to know that you transition from one system to another, not just gut the current workings and move on.

Of course, the current government is also trying to get rid of marijuana and is doing that by not allowing tourists in Dutch coffee shops. I can only presume this is a cunning plan to halt the shutting of prisons for lack of criminals.