Dimphy has been working on Fokker Elmo for 49 years and now feels pushed aside

Dimphy Hermans werkt al 49 jaar bij Fokker Elmo in Hoogerheide. (foto: Raoul Cartens)

Demfi Hermans left the local science school in 1974, and as a 14-year-old girl without a diploma went to work for Fokker in Hogerheide. 49 years later, she’s still working there. Now it seems that it is about to end, but this is not her choice. GKN parent company Fokker transfers Fokker Elmo’s work to Papendrecht and this makes her angry and sad.

Profile photo of Raoul Cartens

She lives with her husband, Gerrit, a cycling distance from her work. In her living room there is a small display cabinet with all kinds of model airplanes. “We made the cables for all of these aircraft at Hoogerheide. This really has to be of the highest quality.” The stricter requirements also apply to cable harnesses in aircraft, because a loose cord or plug can have serious consequences.

“It really hurts me.”

Demfi now has to work in Papendrecht, 65 kilometers away, just like her colleagues. “I’ve been through seven reorganizations in those 49 years here. I feel really bad that the company treats us this way. Nowadays, you’re just a number and they’re throwing you aside. We have nothing left. It really hurts me.”

On Thursday morning, 350 Fokker Elmo employees went on strike for two days. Demfi registered as a forward and after the usual union speeches she went home. You would actually prefer to go to work, but now it is necessary to continue the campaign.

“It’s been a great ride, but I don’t want to miss my mates yet.”

Dimphy doesn’t feel like going to work 65 kilometers away in Papendrecht. She wants to go back and forth by bus, but then she needs money, just like her colleagues in Helmond. “It’s been a great trip, but I don’t want to miss my teammates yet. We’ve got a great team. Besides, I’ll have worked for 50 in January and you can’t shake that off. Then go to Papendrecht.”

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Fokker’s colleagues at Helmond were given an additional three monthly stipends to work at Papendrecht. The parent company does not see this as an option for employees at Hoogerheide. “I don’t think that’s fair,” Demphi sighed. “We do our job here just like in Helmond. We want justice,” says Demfi forcefully.

We hope to find a solution soon.

In February and March there was also a strike on Fokker Elmo. Most of the women work for the company, and almost all of them live in the immediate vicinity of the company. A total of 850 people work there, including 350 temporary workers.

GKN parent company Fokker regrets the strikes in Hoogerheide. “We have agreed a good arrangement with unions for our employees in Hogerhead and Helmond. We remain open to talks with unions and hope to find a solution soon,” the company wrote.

According to trade union director Jan Meader of FNV, last year’s scheme was already agreed upon. But according to Meader, GKN Fokker later agreed with the works council in Helmond that employees would receive three additional monthly salaries if they came to work in Papendrecht.

The reason is that the company expects it to be more difficult to find qualified personnel to make the landing gear than to make the connecting wires.

A tribute to the Fokker Elmo's 49 years of service.  (Photo: Raoul Cartens)
A tribute to the Fokker Elmo’s 49 years of service. (Photo: Raoul Cartens)

Fokker Elmo's attackers are directed by syndicates.  (Photo: Raoul Cartens)
Fokker Elmo’s attackers are directed by syndicates. (Photo: Raoul Cartens)

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