Science - March 31, 2005

Agreement on DLO reorganisation

The unions and the executive board reached a draft agreement last week Wednesday on the planned reorganisations at DLO. For compulsory redundancies the rule will apply: last in, first out. The agreement opens the way for a large-scale reorganisation in which over seven hundred jobs will disappear at the research institutes.

The unions and the board have been negotiating a settlement since the beginning of 2005. The biggest stumbling block was the executive board’s wish to base redundancies on quality selection. In the end the board had to bow to the wishes of the unions, who had argued that Wageningen UR is not in a position to back up a quality judgement on its employees. After he had received advice from lawyers, Kees van Ast agreed that this would not be a feasible course of action.

The reorganisations will take place according to the relevant chapter in the collective labour agreement. According to this an employee whose job disappears will be entitled to seek an alternative position within Wageningen UR for a period of fifteen months. After that compulsory redundancy will follow. The unions have also reached agreement about voluntary redundancy payments. Employees in support departments will be able to take early retirement as an option, as employees in research departments have already been offered.

The agreement only applies to DLO. The university unions are still negotiating their own agreement with the executive board. Within the university it is only employees in support and administrative positions who stand to lose their jobs when cuts of twenty five percent in overhead costs are made. About eighty jobs will go. Van Ast expects to reach an accord soon with the university union representatives.

Before the reorganisation can really get under way the central representative council (OR) has to agree to the plans. The OR expects to reach a verdict next week. The one issue that remains unresolved is the dissolution of the research institute A&F: the OR and the executive board have already reached agreement on the reorganisation of administrative and support departments and other research institutes. / KV