FEW buses and no trains ran in the Netherlands yesterday morning after transport workers' unions called a one-day strike to protest against pension reforms proposed by the government.
The national traffic bureau ANWB reported that traffic on motorways throughout the country was heavier than usual and commuting started early, but there were no major problems.
Because the strike was announced well in advance, most Dutch who use public transportation had either arranged to travel by car - or decided to take a day off work.
International trains through the Netherlands were also halted. The national train company NS promised to refund unusable tickets.
"When more than 50 per cent of workers don't show up, it's difficult to keep train service working," spokesman Michiel Jonker said.
The strike, organised by trade union FNV, targets plans by the government to make contributions to an early retirement programme taxable - a measure intended to encourage the rapidly ageing Dutch population to keep working and not strain social security programmes.
Negotiations between the government and unions over this and other proposed cuts in social benefits have been at a standstill for the past week.
At the start of October, 150,000 people protested the reforms in Amsterdam in what police said was the largest anti-government demonstration in the Netherlands in 20 years.
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