Unions walk away from labour negotiations

Unions and the university association VSNU are at odds with one another: the universities are unwilling to set any nationwide workload standards.

Employers and employees are in agreement that the matter of excessive workloads has to be addressed, but the VSNU does not see any need for general regulations to apply nationwide. ‘Implementation is up to the individual institutions’, according to VSNU. The universities would prefer to discuss the issue with the university councils and the Local Consultative Committee (a consultative body for the board of the university and workers organisations).

That is why the unions have shelved the negotiations on a new collective labour agreement. ‘Cutting down on excessive workloads shouldered by university staff is being shrugged off with a proposal to simply monitor the workload’, according to a press release co-signed by the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV), the Scientists’ Union (VAWO), the National Christian Union (CNV), and worker’s organisation AC/FBZ.

Pay increase

Furthermore, the groups feels that the universities are not complying with agreements made last year about a pay increase of five per cent in two years.

According to the universities, wages were already raised by two per cent last year, and they rose by an additional 1.25 per cent in September. This year, a further one per cent wage increase came in the form of a one-time pay out of 500 euros. As such, the universities are proposing a pay raise of .8 per cent, retroactively starting on 1 January 2016.

But the unions see that as weak. They feel that the universities should not be allowed to include older versions of the CAO in their calculations and are counting raises that were granted too far in the past.


The groups also fail to see eye to eye when it comes to severance pay. The universities want to absorb the costs of the premium for the third year of unemployment, but they also want to adjust the so-called transition compensation (transitievergoeding) to reflect supplementary unemployment benefits (bovenwettelijke werkloosheidsvoorziening). ‘Experience teaches us that the job-to-job guidance at universities often leaves something to be desired, especially after a person has been let go’, according to the unions.

Additionally, the unions want to limit the number of temporary contracts, but the universities are unwilling to consider that proposal.

There is every reason to leave the negotiations, then. In the coming weeks, the groups will discuss the matter with the staff of the universities. The current CAO runs until 1 July. If it is not possible to seal the deal on a new CAO before that time, the current CAO will remain in effect.

It is not yet clear when the negotiations will resume.