De UU trekt miljoenen uit om medewerkers tegemoet te komen die getroffen zijn door de coronacrisis.
De UU trekt miljoenen uit om medewerkers tegemoet te komen die getroffen zijn door de coronacrisis.

Beeld: Typetank

Plan in place for uncertain UU employees

Utrecht University (UU) has a plan in place to help employees who have encountered problems due to the corona crisis. In addition to the salary supplement agreed in the collective labour agreement (CLA), the university is making additional millions of euros available. “This is exactly how it should be. Hopefully other universities will soon follow suit”, says AOb sector manager Donald Pechler.

One of the agreements reached in the last CLA agreement was that universities set aside 0.45 percent – around 20 to 21 million euros – of the available salary supplement to give to staff on temporary contracts who have been affected by the corona crisis. This might be because their research has been halted for months but that their contract is now expiring without the research having been completed. The CLA negotiators want universities to devise a plan for these employees, and soon.

Making up the shortfall

UU now has one such plan in place. The university is doing more than has been laid down in the CLA. The CLA agreement stipulates that the university should set aside 1.6 million euros for the scheme. Joep van den Dikkenberg, who works for the Faculty of Science and is a member of the UU local employees’ organisation, is meeting with the board to discuss terms and conditions of employment and to notify them that the university is making up the shortfall, which amounts to around 7 million euros.

“As a result, it will be possible to extend the scheme so that more PhD students, support and management staff, teaching staff and postdocs will be able to make use of it. Employees will be able to apply this week and the university will consider eligibility on a case-by-case basis. It has been well thought out, and we are pleased with the plan.”

First step

Pechler tells us that the CLA scheme is a first step towards encouraging universities to do something for the group of employees affected. “The agreement derived from the salary supplement means that these are employees who have temporary employment contracts. By making up the shortfall, UU is showing that it is standing up for more groups than just the employees, such as those who are obtaining their PhD but still have a grant.”

‘By making up the shortfall, UU is showing that it is standing up for more groups than just the employees’

Millions

UU is making a total sum of 3 million euros (including the 1.6 million euros from the salary supplement) available for employees whose temporary contract is due to expire this year. Another 3 million euros has been set aside for postdocs or PhD students who are in the third year of their contract. Van den Dikkenberg: “The good thing is that the university is also setting aside 2.9 million euros to ease the workloads of particular members of staff. This applies to the group of teaching staff in particular, because the corona crisis has caused their workload to increase even further.”

‘The good thing is that the university is also setting aside 2.9 million euros to ease the workloads of particular members of staff’

Teaching management staff

Van den Dikkenberg draws attention to support and management staff. “The scheme is open to these staff too, because many PhD students are dependent on supporters helping them in their research. For example, analysts who view the data. They too may have been appointed for a particular project – just like PhD students – so are required to stay around for longer when research is delayed.”

AOb sector manager Pechler hopes that other universities will soon follow suit. “Preferably before the summer holidays, because many people are feeling a sense of uncertainty. UU has just started implementing the scheme and is showing that it is possible to reach agreements quickly.”

Read this article in Dutch.

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