Narrow collective labor agreement for universities
The members of all four unions have agreed to the collective labor agreement for the universities. 'It remains a hot topic that universities try very creatively to circumvent the collective labor agreement in order to prevent the creation of permanent employment contracts', says AObdriver Donald Pechler.
A wage increase plus one-off payment has been agreed for all employees in the collective labor agreement. Universities must also make concrete agreements with the Local Consultation (LO) regarding the task assignment and reduction of the workload of staff.
The agreement is a step towards more permanent jobs. University lecturers, associate professors, professors and support and management staff will from now on be given a permanent contract after one year. Lecturers and researchers are given priority for internal vacancies, and the size of the flexible shell is the subject of local consultation.
'In the coming year, we will make every effort to reduce the temporary appointments of all staff – including lecturers and researchers'
However, the members poll gave only a narrow positive result. 55% in favor against 45% against. The main stumbling block is the precarious position of teachers. “Various universities are very creative in interpreting collective labor agreements, and try to prevent the creation of permanent employment contracts,” says AObdriver Donald Pechler. “There are fears that this agreement is not being implemented in the spirit, and that this collective labor agreement will make the position of lecturers without a research task even more precarious.”
At the AOb There were many reactions to the agreement. “The objections that not only members, but also other organizations such as Casual Leiden and WOinActie have expressed in their responses to the agreement, are substantiated in such a concrete way that they cannot be left unaddressed at the collective labor agreement.”
Pechler: “Our starting point is and remains that permanent employment should apply to structural work. In the coming year, we will therefore make every effort to reduce the temporary appointments of all staff, including lecturers and researchers. This is also the subject of consultation at all local consultation tables.”
Important points from the collective labor agreement
More permanent jobs
The agreement on permanent jobs is especially important for the unions. From now on, university lecturers, senior lecturers, professors and support and management staff (obp) must be given a permanent contract after one year if they perform well (if they have 'proven suitability'). “This applies to a large group of employees,” says Pechler. “Around eight hundred academic staff members will be given a permanent contract this year, and that number rises to two thousand in the group of obp'ers. This is a significant improvement, because if you followed the current collective labor agreement for universities, employees could even get a temporary contract for four years or even longer.”
Under the new collective labor agreement, eight hundred scientific employees will be given a permanent contract and in the group of obp'ers this rises to two thousand.
Another agreement is that the dismissal protection period will be shortened in phases. Employees currently receive a total of thirteen months of dismissal protection in the event of reorganisations. This means that they may not be fired during those months, but then have the time to find other work.
From 1 July 2023, the dismissal protection period will be reduced to ten or eleven months. The number of months depends on the number of years of service. From 1 January 2025, employees will receive six or seven months of dismissal protection. Pechler: “During that period they continue to be paid, without having to do any work for it. Because most scientific employees already work overtime, so what is left of work-to-work guidance? In the old arrangement, employees continued to do their own work, but in fact they were not given time to look for other work. They will now have that opportunity.
In addition, every employee who falls under a reorganization will receive a budget in line with the market for professional support in finding other work.” From 1 July 2023, older employees who are five years or less before their state pension age and who have been employed for fifteen years or longer will now receive one year of dismissal protection.
The collective labor agreement negotiators have also made agreements about wages. From July 2021, all university employees will see a pay increase of 1,64 percent appear on their pay slips. This will be followed by a plus of 1 percent from 2022 January 0,36. With this new collective labor agreement, employees also receive a one-off payment of 650 euros for a full-time job. Institutions will pay this bonus in September this year.
Pechler is also proud of an appointment for employees who fall into the lowest salary scales, such as porters, service employees, cleaners and employees at the repro. From 1 July 2021, 14 euros will be the minimum hourly wage, which will raise the six lowest salary scales. “It was an explicit wish of our members to do something for this group. They facilitate education. I'm glad we got this sorted out."
'All employees will receive a wage increase of 1,64 percent and a one-off payment of 650 euros'
Working pressure reduction
Another important theme is work pressure and especially the way in which it can be reduced. Under the negotiator's agreement, university boards must enter into discussions with the Local Consultation (LO) to make proper agreements about the demarcation of work and private time.
In addition, the LO must consider 'freely disposable working time' for employees. All employees should be given this time in which they can decide for themselves what they do. Universities can, for example, introduce meeting-free weeks, or never schedule appointments at one hour of the day. In addition, employees must be given a realistic task assignment.
Some employees are so crammed with education that they can no longer do research during working hours,” says Pechler. “Employers must take this into account and make clear agreements with the LO and the participation council. They have an important role in this. Employees must be given a realistic task assignment, in which universities, for example, establish the relationship between education, research, preparation and other tasks. They can indicate bandwidths for that.”
'Working from home was often only arranged informally, now there are clear agreements'
Working from home
Working from home is also related to the work-life balance. Due to corona, this is a more important issue than ever and that is why agreements have now been made. There are two options that universities can choose from to provide work-from-home allowances to their employees. “Working from home was often only arranged informally. We have now clearly laid down agreements and fees for it, such as internet fees, which will apply from 1 September 2021.”
The new collective labor agreement will run from January 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.