News - September 28, 2017

Green light for TNO move

Albert Sikkema

The WUR Central Works Council (COR) has agreed under protest to TNO nutrition staff coming to Wageningen Campus. The council feels the ministry of Economic Affairs should have given more money for the new nutrition institute.

Axis, the new workplace for TNO researchers, ©WUR

On 20 September, the works council considered the move of around 40 TNO nutrition researchers to Wageningen campus. They will be part of Wageningen Food and Biobased Research as of next year.

Over the past few years, WUR, TNO and the ministry of Economic Affairs have been negotiating this nutritional research merger. One issue was the ‘transition costs’. TNO’s research would have to relocate, new labs would have to be set up in Wageningen and TNO researchers have slightly higher salaries than scientists at Wageningen Research. WUR wanted the ministry to reimburse those additional costs in full and to commit to giving the new institute research assignments over the next few years. WUR would be prepared to employ the TNO researchers under those conditions.

Wageningen Research’s central works council feels the ministry’s promises do not go far enough. The council says the transition costs far exceed the money the ministry has promised. ‘Economic Affairs should cover all the costs,’ says Joost van Opheusden of the works council. The COR has not given any figures because they are confidential. ‘Our advice is to go through with the merger but we definitely want to talk to the Executive Board again about the costs.’

The WUR Executive Board is pleased the works council is not raising an objection to the merger. ‘We have the opportunity to create a unique European institute for applied nutritional research that has the support of the ministry, the top sector and the business community,’ says spokesman Simon Vink. ‘The Executive Board is investing in this institute. Fortunately the works council has also recommended going ahead with the implementation, which means the institute can start up on 1 January and the TNO staff can move to Wageningen as of 1 March 2018.’

Unlike the COR, the Executive Board accepts the commitments made by the ministry of Economic Affairs. Vink: ‘The board has spent a long time negotiating with TNO and the ministry on the formation of the new institute, financial guarantees and the associated costs.’