Several dozens of teachers protested in Utrecht on Thursday against the many temporary contracts at Dutch universities in an effort to put pressure on the negotiations for a new collective labour agreement (Dutch acronym CAO).
The issue of flex labour is also present at WUR, says Joshua Dijksman, an associate professor at WUR and representative of the FNV, CNV, Aob, CMHF unions. In this capacity, he is the executive board’s dialogue partner on how Wageningen applies the CAO. This is known as the ‘local discussion’. Dijksman underscores that unions have been petitioning for a stop to flex labour at universities for years. Temporary contracts for post-docs and teachers are commonplace rather than an exception.
Permanent versus temporary
The current CAO, which expired on 1 April, contains details on reducing the number of temporary contracts. However, these stipulations apply only to teachers, associate professors and assistant professors and exclude other teaching staff and researchers. This category often has temporary contracts, the data on the Dutch Universities reveals.
With very few exceptions, professors all have permanent contracts. Of the associate professors nationwide, some 5% serve on a temporary contract (6% at WUR). 30% of the assistant professors in the Netherlands have a temporary contract (35% at WUR), and among teachers with only teaching duties, this percentage is even higher: 60% (49% at WUR). Of all the post-docs in the Netherlands, just under 90% have a temporary employment contract (83% at WUR).
In Utrecht, the unions and universities continue negotiations about a new CAO today. The universities are rumoured to be receptive to an increase in salary but wary of changes with regard to the temporary contracts. The protesters handed a symbolic temporary contract to VU president Marcel Nollen, the CAO negotiator for the universities. They stated: ‘If you keep exploiting us, we will fight you.’
Textst Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau / Marieke Enter