ISS PhD Students Strike Over Stipend
The 1,401.63 guilders which PhD students receive is less than the amount that Dutch researchers (Oio's) and research assistants (Aio's) receive, and it is also less than the amount foreign fellowship students in other academic institutions are given. The stipend is also 399 guilders short of the monthly requirement set by the alien police as the minimum income sufficient to support bringing a spouse or family member to the Netherlands for the duration of the study period. In February the PhD candidates held a 5 hour long sit-in which resulted in the creation of an ad hoc working committee, comprising both students and ISS staff, to further study the stipend matter.
The report, completed March 13th, recommended that the ISS make an internal financial adjustment as an interim solution to bring the PhD stipend in line with that of the Aio's and Oio's. This would mean an additional 825 guilders per month. Long term solutions from external funding sources would have to be simultaneously be investigated. Both the ISS PhD Committee and the Board of Graduate Studies endorsed the recommendations made in the report. The managers and scientific director of the Centre for Resource Studies for Development (CERES), as well as Dutch PhD candidates have all supported the move to end differential treatment of ISS PhD candidates.
On April 18th, the Executive Committee of the ISS, in a meeting with the PhD Committee, and students, agreed in principle to the recommendations. The working committee's report included a timetable, which set a May 1st deadline schedule for concrete action by the Executive Committee. Having received no notice of tangible changes, PhD candidates issued a strike warning on Saturday April 29th. Despite all the support and agreement in principle, to the surprise of the candidates, the three members of the executive committee told students at a meeting on Monday May 1st that they were not obliged to accept the ad hoc working committee's recommendations. They offered no concrete plans for topping up the stipend, but instead reiterated their longstanding position based on a policy of giving a few teaching and research assistanceships to a select number PhD candidates. The strike, now in its second week, will likely continue until PhD students see their stipend raised to a level compara
ble with that of their Dutch Aio and Oio colleagues. To be continued...