On Tuesday afternoon, the unions presented their bargaining position ahead of talks to set out a new collective labour agreement for Dutch universities. Their demands include a 14.3 per cent salary increase across the board and a rise in the number of permanent contracts.
Last year, salaries at Dutch universities rose by 4 per cent. “Needless to say, that correction has since evaporated due to last year’s sky-high rate of inflation”, says Jan Boersma, Head of FNV Education and Research. This year, therefore, he and the other education unions have set their sights on a 14.3 per cent increase, in line with the rate of inflation as reported by Statistics Netherlands last October. In addition, they want salaries to go up automatically on an annual basis in line with the rising cost of living.
These demands are contained in a joint statement by the FNV, AOb, CNV and FBZ unions, presented to employers on Tuesday afternoon. In addition, FNV and AOb, along with the action groups Casual Academy, WOinAction, PNN, Postdocnl and 0.7, handed over a 1,400-signature petition against the prevalence of temporary contracts.
“Universities still want everything for nothing, and to this end, they have been exploiting the loyalty and intrinsic drive of their employees for years”, Boersma insists.
Temporary contracts, in combination with poor terms and conditions, have a serious impact on the work of researchers and teaching staff. The unions want universities to revise this aspect of their employment policy drastically. Among teaching staff without research duties, they argue that the percentage of temporary contracts should be reduced from 80 to 15 per cent. These teachers should be offered a permanent position after one year. With this demand, the unions want to put an end to situations in which staff carry out vital, long-term work for their university on a string of four one-year contracts.
In an effort to combat absenteeism, the unions are also calling for a reduction in workload. One way to achieve this, they argue, is by agreeing on more feasible standards for the level of teaching commitments and the number of teachers a programme should employ.
“Support staff and researchers should be given more realistic job assignments, and publication targets should be scaled back”, Boersma adds.
The unions’ position also takes in guidelines on matters of diversity and inclusion. These cover calls for transgender leave and leave for women going through menopause. They also want a national ombuds hotline to be set up for people who are afraid to report an issue to an ombudsperson at their own institution.