The Dutch construction workers are worried. Due to increasingly stringent regulations their projects are coming to a halt. Every day, hundreds of workers are sent home. Today, the construction workers took to the Malieveld in The Hague to protest against the regulations. And we were there to show our support.
Why are the construction workers protesting?
Workers are protesting the increasingly stringent regulations that cause many projects to come to a standstill. The new regulations involve norms for chemicals such as PFAS and nitrogen. Due to these new norms, more workers are being laid off on a daily basis. We also notice the impact at TRADUS. On our marketplace, the number of ads for equipment struck by the new regulations increased by 500 percent. In the meantime the demand for construction work can’t be met.
What do they want?
The government has promised to come with a more workable solution on December 1st of this year. However, with more workers being laid off every day, they want answers now. Today at the Malieveld, this is exactly what the workers were chanting: “Now! Now! Now!”
How did they protest?
Last night the first vehicles arrived on the Malieveld. By this morning, all sorts of construction vehicles and machines were parked on the terrain. The idea is that the vehicles parked on the field have all become obsolete due to the new regulations. Many drivers honked the horns of their vehicles throughout the day to express their anger. But the excavators and dump trucks weren’t just there to make noise (more about that later on).
Although some workers clearly stated they wanted to cause a disturbance, the protest as a whole had a friendly vibe. During the morning, more and more vehicles came towards the Malieveld. At 8 AM, most roads towards the center of The Hague were blocked by the police. At that time the Malieveld was full.
No complete standstill
Many speakers were invited up on the main stage of the protest area. Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten was one of them. She promised the workers their industry wouldn’t come to a complete standstill, but was met with booing and catcalling.
Answers coming soon
State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Stientje van Veldhoven also promised improvement as soon as possible. But soon isn’t soon enough to the workers, who immediately started shouting, “Now! Now! Now!” Both speeches did not spark much confidence among the workers, who still fear for their jobs.
Early in the afternoon, the dump trucks and excavators gathered to dump soil on the Malieveld. The idea behind this was to show how much soil is now being stored due to new regulations. Clean sand was used to not pollute the Malieveld’s soil. Workers gathered from all corners of the area to watch the machines dump and spread the sand. Many grabbed their phones to film the spectacle.
Not everyone seemed pleased with the construction workers on strike. A counterdemonstration caused a small stir, but didn’t lead to any large problems. Some protesters also tried to damage property in the Malieveld area. Both events were handled by the police and didn’t lead to any serious events.
The protest ended earlier than planned. Even though the atmosphere was generally positive, workers seemed to be done with it. Some protesters helped clean up the piles of sand that were dumped a little earlier in the day.
Although regulations are important for a cleaner and better future, it’s awful to see workers lose their jobs. It’s even worse when you see the demand for construction work is so high. As the smarter global heavy machinery marketplace, we hope the government will come with a sustainable, smart solution. Let’s hope for the workers this solution will be presented soon.