AOb:
AOb: "This gesture can give employees who are struggling financially for a month some relief."

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One-off inflation compensation at Breda University of Applied Sciences

At the end of last week, staff of the Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUAS) received a bonus on top of their salary, varying from around 100 to 370 euros net. For example, the school wants to 'come somewhat in the increased energy costs'.

Breda University of Applied Sciences employees in the lowest salary scales received an extra 370 euros net in September with a full-time contract. For staff from scale 9 it was 185 euros net, in proportion to the employment. The money for 'relief of the problems that many households have to deal with' writes the university on its website, comes from the so-called dam funds (decentralized terms of employment resources).

De AOb receives signals that participation councils at other universities of applied sciences are also trying to achieve something similar. Colleges spend according to a collective labor agreement each year 1,41 percent of the wage bill in dam money. This goes, for example, to a supplement to parental leave, bicycle scheme or internet allowance. If employees make less use of such a scheme than expected, an amount remains. That was the case with the BUAS.

Sympathetic gesture

De AOb calls on the Executive Boards to find out what is already possible in terms of one-off payments. “That is also possible from the sometimes substantial reserves,” says Douwe van der Zweep, AObhigher education director. “Of course, this is a sympathetic gesture and can give employees who are struggling financially for a month some relief. But ultimately the problem is that the wage margin lags far behind inflation.”

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Zakaria Boufangacha, vice president of the FNV, stated last weekend in the Telegraaf that employers can prevent 'the economy from collapsing' by structurally increasing salaries. According to him, there is no need to follow a wage-price spiral: “Companies opt for a price increase, they can also opt for less high profit margins. Their profits have risen sharply in the last year and a half.”

There is no such risk of a wage-price spiral in education, adds Van der Zweep. “It is not the case that if the wages of education employees go up, education for the buyers – parents or students – will immediately become more expensive and thus trigger a next wage increase.” Van der Zweep sees it the other way around: “On the one hand, the government tells employers: raise wages, but they should realize that they also have a responsibility themselves. They have to lead by example.”

Huge reserves

In Breda the construction was arranged in eight days. Jan van Faith is a policy officer for employment conditions at BUAS. “The idea came from a member of the Executive Board at the beginning of this month. It was a bit of puzzling and calculating. We wanted to do something for our employees in the shortest possible time and with as little red tape as possible.” Van Faith checked with the payroll administrator whether it was technically feasible to add the amount to the September salaries. That was possible. Van Faith: “It also helped that the lines of communication with the participation council and the unions are short.”

On behalf of the AOb Nasera Azzouz negotiates the dam funds at the BUAS. “The university college's initial proposal was an allowance only for staff up to scale 9. I found that difficult, because the decentralized resources are in fact wage space for all employees.”

'People with a middle income also benefit from such a one-off allowance'

In consultation, the university of applied sciences decided to make a division: the higher amount for staff up to and including scale 8, half of that for the other employees. There could the AOb feel better about it. Azzouz: “Of course, when you think of inflation and energy costs, you first think of low incomes, but you don't know the situation of people with a higher wage. How they live, whether they are the breadwinner and so on. They also benefit from such a one-off compensation.”

Van Faith, of the BUAS, has had 'mainly positive' reactions to the initiative, he says: “Also some questions about why we made certain choices. But we are happy to explain that.”

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