How much money do the educational institutions receive for the 'wage room'? That's what the AOb know.
How much money do the educational institutions receive for the 'wage room'? That's what the AOb know.

picture: Type tank

AOb goes to court: how much room for wages does the government give?

De AOb demands that the cabinet disclose how much money education gets to raise wages. To obtain that openness, the union will go to court.

In education, trade unions are currently negotiating with employers about wage increases in the new collective labor agreements. But how much money do the educational institutions get for the 'wage space'? This is secret information that the government only sends to employers. The unions are therefore lagging behind in the negotiations.


There has the AOb enough of. The union has been asking for transparency for some time and also wants insight into the discussions between the ministries of Education and Finance and employers: have the latter made a case for their staff in recent years?

The union asked the Ministry of Education for information, but that request was rejected. So now there is a lawsuit. “We want to take the financial discussion out of the wings,” says AObdriver Douwe van der Zweep.

"Wages have been cut for years"

Wages matter, is his consideration. According to the union, if teachers were paid better, there would be fewer shortages in primary and secondary education. “We have been cutting back on wages for years,” says Van der Zweep. “We want to know exactly what is going on in the background and what considerations there are. We want to reconstruct the policy and learn lessons for the future.”

Role of employers

The role of employers is also important in this, he believes. “We needed the Top Income Standards Act to limit executive pay: they earned too much. But have they done their best at the ministry for the wages of the people who work for them?”

A majority in politics also thinks that this information should be public, as it turned out in 2019 motion adopted by the Labor Party. Government party D66 voted in favour, while VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie were against. But that motion did not directly ask for disclosure. It only said that the cabinet had to pay the employers in education asked questions to share the so-called 'space letters' with the unions.

Minister Ollongren, then of the Interior, promised this with great reluctance. But the cabinet would also tell employers 'that the motion is at odds with the confidentiality of the letter'. Openness would make negotiations more difficult, she feared.


However, it is about spending public funds, argues the education union. The policy must be verifiable. That's why the AOb an appeal to the Open Government Act, which in principle obliges transparency.

It is somewhat known how the cabinet arrives at decisions about the wage range. For example, the expected wage increases in the market sector (5,2 percent according to the Central Planning Bureau) are being looked at. There is also compensation for increased premiums and social security charges. This is called the 'reference system'.

But, says Van der Zweep, the cabinet can also reduce or expand the wage gap on its own. For example, education has been put on a zero line for years, or smaller discounts have been implemented. It is also possible to allow wages to rise more quickly, as was done a few years ago in primary education.


Incidentally, the employers in education have the government this time open letter written and begged for extra money. Inflation was 10 percent last year, they wrote, so wages should also go up by about that percentage.

The unions want wages to automatically rise in line with inflation from now on. “We suggested October as the reference month, and then the inflation happened to be 14 percent,” says Van der Zweep. “But we can also choose, say, July; that makes little difference to the system. We simply do not want to structurally deteriorate.”

The court case against the cabinet will probably not take place until the autumn.

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