(Netherlands Trade Union Confederation, FNV Government)
A university of us all
Our university is a meeting place for knowledge, skills, and experience. FNV Overheid believes every voice counts equally; we all are the university, regardless of our background or position. We strive for a university in which everyone is accepted as a full and respected member of the (academic) community, from junior colleagues to experienced staff, and from academics to support staff and students. A welcoming, open working environment allows us to exchange our knowledge, skills, and experience freely, bringing out the best in both ourselves and each other.
Trust and responsibility
We wish to continue our work for a University that offers an inspiring workplace for all its staff and focuses on its primary tasks of education, research and societal service, providing sufficient time and showing appreciation for each. A university where co-participation truly functions and the interests of all employees are protected, through realistic requirements, as few rules and regulations as possible, good opportunities for personal development, and clear career prospects.
Realistic work requirements
Decisions made by the university should serve the needs of its staff and students. The university is becoming increasingly administrative and the culture of accountability just keeps growing: accreditations, evaluations, performance agreements, success rates, teaching qualifications, binding study advice - the list is getting longer and longer, resulting in a great deal of largely unnecessary administrative work, which diminishes job satisfaction for both academic and support staff. This must be countered as much as possible. For each new measure, regulation, protocol, or system considered, the primary concern should be the feasibility and consequences of its implementation for employees, to ensure that the workload does not increase even more and the working environment remains healthy. This applies just as much to relatively small decisions concerning new procedures related to requests for simple repairs as big plans related to housing.
Safe working environment
We continue to push for a positive and safe working environment for all university employees. Good working relations to us include the opportunity to freely communicate with one another, without having to worry about possible consequences. Self-censorship is unfortunately too often a factor of concern in interactions between staff and students, whereas a free exchange of knowledge and experience forms the essence of being a university. At the same time, open communication between staff and supervisors is not always a reality either. We believe constructive collaboration with supervisors could be enhanced through 180 degrees evaluations for all staff. That way, employees are not just assessed for the work they have done but supervisors receive feedback on how they performed their role as well.
Having a meaningful role in the organization adds to the trust and pleasure people have in doing their job. To that end, we will push for a more open and transparent decision making process. A step in this direction could be the introduction of elected academic administrators, rather than appointing them from above. Giving staff and students a bigger say in (and a better grasp of) what is going on within the university will result in a stronger feeling of involvement and responsibility for what many of see as a second home; this is how it truly becomes our university.
Why vote FNV Overheid?
Voters know what we stand for; a persistent and critical attitude to the Executive Board’s plans, which are often insufficiently based on practice. A strong response to the Executive Board is needed to ensure that the interests of all staff is taken into account whenever a new measure is proposed. Through our direct contact with local members of the FNV, we are well aware of issues concerning employees in all strata of the university and able to represent everyone’s interests, right up to the level of the Local Consultative Committee.
What we have achieved during the 2018-2020 period
The FNV Government group in the University Council has always promoted the interests of all staff, regardless of their position whether secretaries, professors or security staff. In the recent period we have concentrated on the following important issues:
- We stressed the importance of (the lack of) a safe working environment for all staff members, resulting in the Executive Board, after much resistance, finally agreeing to the appointment of an ombudsperson for staff members.
- A central issue for us was to push for the appointment of staff in permanent (teaching) positions where their tasks are structurally required and to further discourage the use of large numbers of short-term appointments that are unfortunately still common practice. While a lot needs to be done still, we managed to get the University to agree to longer appointments for temporary teaching staff (25% of instructors financed through direct government funding will now be given a four year contract). We also dedicated ourselves to banning and preventing unethical practices, such as firing-and-rehiring temporary staff after six months on the dole to avoid having to give them permanent contracts, or the appointment of all types of staff through pay-roll constructions.
- With our help, additional forms of online matching for all BA-programs, which the university was keen to introduce but many were very critical of, will not be mandatory in the near future. After a pilot, each program will be allowed to decide for themselves whether to make it part of their admission procedure or not.
Besides this we have frequently helped to ensure to smoothen the rough edges of new policy measures, which was often necessary.
Key points for the 2020-2022 period
This next period we will continue to strive for a healthy, safe and inspiring work environment in which staff enjoy trust and gain satisfaction from completing a realistic workload. To achieve this, several things are high on our agenda:
- ensure the appointment of the promised ombudsperson as soon as possible.
- reduce the number of rules and regulations that govern our work by introducing regular evaluations of procedures involving the entire staff (not through hand-picked taskforces).
- enhance open communication between staff and superiors, for instance through the introduction of 180 degrees evaluations
- treating educational and research efforts as truly equally appreciated endeavours, meaning a career based on teaching efforts is possible, while also ensuring that teaching is not dumped on others to prioritize research.
- continue to advocate permanent positions when a structural task is concerned as well as eliminate unethical and questionable appointment practices involving consecutive short-term contracts interrupted by (involuntary) furlough or pay-roll constructions.
Working at the future
We work towards a future university that offers staff the necessary support to do their work with confidence and satisfaction; a university that trusts its staff and students to perform their tasks responsibly and professionally. A university that shapes the future.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact V.M.J. de Gucht.