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Philips’ Dutch Staff Holds Strike

March 28, 2002

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ The Dutch workers of Royal Philips Electronics NV went on strike Thursday in a daylong protest against the company’s rejection of wage demands.

Two unions said up to 6,000 workers walked out at 23 out of the company’s 30 production sites and offices in the Netherlands. At 10 locations, mostly in the southern part of the country, production came to a standstill.

The action will last until Friday morning and might be continued next week if Philips fails to respond to the unions’ demands, the unions said.

``This is unique. There are sites where they never had a strike in more than 50 years, and now they’re out of business,″ said Nico Bogaard, a union spokesman.

In Eindhoven, home of most of Philips’ largest factories, up to 1,000 workers marched through the streets wearing orange caps and carrying banners.

In addition to the daylong walkout, more than half of Philips’ 29,000 Dutch workers attended two-hour meetings, making it the largest labor action in the history of Europe’s biggest consumer electronics maker.

The action was organized by the two largest Dutch unions to press demands for wage increases of 3.5 percent this year.

The management has agreed to pay only 2.5 percent, citing increased market competition and the losses of more than $2 billion in 2001.

``We’ve had a lousy year. We have to cut our coat according to our cloth,″ said Ed de Haas, a Philips negotiator.

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