News - August 27, 2015

Without a CAO it’s all up in the air

Albert Sikkema,Rob Ramaker

Unions and DLO have been negotiating about a new labour agreement (CAO). The central employees’ council is frustrated by the lack of progress and has asked staff to accept the current proposal. Should the unions accept the current offer of a two percent pay rise?


Marleen Riemens DLO researcher at PRI Agrosystems Research
‘I don’t follow the negotiations closely but I do agree essentially with the employees’ council’s standpoint. Now we have nothing and the gulf between us and the university staff is just growing [ed: WU staff get a 3 percent pay rise in their new CAO]. That is not just a bad deal; it doesn’t fi t the One Wageningen philosophy either. ‘This is not just about our salaries being lower; you want equal treatment. Now you sometimes feel like a second-class employee. Someone who only counts as long as they bring in money. What I would like to see is all staff on one kind getting the same hourly rate, with different tasks. That would also make it much easier to collaborate without the system getting in the way.’


Emil Wobert DLO research at Food & Biobased Research
‘I am a union member and I stand with the unions. It is strange that the central employees’ council is getting involved in this. They should leave the negotiations to the unions and not interfere. The CAO that comes out of it needs to be good for all age groups and complete - not just a partial agreement. For some people a pay rise is important but for others it’s a third year of unemployment benefi t or the ‘work-to-work’ scheme for helping people made redundant fi nd new jobs. ‘I note that Wageningen UR presents itself to the outside world as one of the better employers but when it comes to the new CAO, it keeps quiet. There’s been a deadlock since 2013, whereas the university has come to a decent agreement in that time. That is a bitter pill, because we are all under the same umbrella. I myself have a lot of contact with WU staff who do similar work to me.’

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Karin Andeweg DLO researcher at Livestock Research
‘I happened to be talking about this today with a colleague, but that was the fi rst time. It is time to make decisions and stop messing around. I can understand that certain points, like the third year of benefi t, are important to other people, but I don’t think you should get bogged down in the details. You can also make an agreement on points like a rise in salary and agree to discuss a few of the details later. ‘I’ve been working here since January and I was told then that a new CAO would be ready soon. It amazed me that negotiations stopped after that. It’s not a big problem for me that there is no pay rise, but many colleagues haven’t had one for two years now. In short, it’s time for an agreement.’

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Edgar Vos DLO researcher at Alterra and member of trade union federation FNV
‘This is tricky because I have been involved in the negotiation on behalf of the FNV. They took an exceptionally long time. What I fi nd remarkable is that we had an agreement on a ‘work-to-work’ transition system, and then the WUR Council was brought into it at the request of the employer. The council had three comments, but none of them was refl ected in the agreement. I think it’s right that staff members who go back to a lower level job take a cut in salary too. But I am fearful about the care with which this is implemented in DLO. The employer is extremely careful not to let pay go up too much, but meanwhile the rules and administration have increased enormously for staff . Those rules, most of which are imposed by the employer, cost the organization a lot more.´

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Gerdien Meijerink Researcher at LEI
‘I understand that the CAO negotiations revolve around a pay rise. I think the union’s demand for higher salaries is justifi ed. At DLO we are paid less than people in the ministry, for instance. Our secondary labour conditions are good, but it is right that there is a lot of focus on pay. The point is though: as long as we don’t have a CAO we don’t get a cent more. So a quick CAO agreement would probably have worked out better. I don’t like the way everything is so up in the air as long as we don’t have a CAO at DLO.’


Ruth Bouwstra Research at the Central Veterinary Institute
‘I don’t know if I’m the right person for you, as I’ve got a new job from 1 October. To me, DLO is a good employer and I am amazed that the CAO takes so long. Why do the unions complicate matters so much? Isn’t this way of negotiating a thing of the past? I would rather see the management table a CAO proposal and put it to the staff directly through a poll. If the majority is in favour, you work the CAO out in detail. Now an agreement keeps on being blocked and I get the feeling we are standing still.’

Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek