Two police unions protesting at government plans to cut sick-day entitlements are considering “fine-free weeks” as an alternative to strike action. The idea being weighed by the ACV and NSPV unions comes from the Netherlands, where police decided to stop handing out fines for minor offences as a way of registering a protest without placing the public order in jeopardy by going on strike.
Dutch police carried out such an action in June, and this week switched tactics to no longer collect outstanding fines. There, police described the measures as “public-friendly actions”.
“The Dutch idea has given us food for thought,” said Joeri Dehaes of the ACV union. “I would rule out that we might do it, too.” The final decision, he said, would be left to the membership. A third police union, the liberal VSOA, declined to react to the suggestion.
The dispute centres on a decision by the government to put an end to the current practice whereby public sector workers are allowed a certain number of paid sick-days a year. However if the allowance is not used up in any given year, the remainder can be carried over to the following year.
Unions complain they were not consulted about the decision, and instead presented with a fait accompli in the middle of the holiday period. Other parts of the public sector are also preparing to take action, once members can be consulted after the holiday period.