Science - September 29, 2005

Board rejects works council demands

The executive board of Wageningen UR has rejected demands from the central employees’ council (COR) to scrap an extra three hundred administrative jobs in the coming years. The board is prepared to examine whether new cuts are possible, but cannot agree to firm figures.

The COR says the current plans to reduce overheads by a quarter are not enough and therefore issued a negative recommendation for the proposed reorganisation plan. In its response, the COR set out ten conditions that it wants the executive board to fulfil before it is prepared to give the green light to the reductions.

The most important condition is that the executive board undertakes to continue to reduce overheads. The COR included a table of overheads ceilings in its report; the COR is demanding that overheads at the university ultimately be brought down to the level they are in the DLO research institutes. The maximum percentage spent on overheads should not exceed seventeen percent for both organisations. According to the executive board this is ‘unfeasible and undesirable’, because the university has departments for student administration and student recruitment that DLO does not need. The executive board says it is prepared to take into account the ‘stretch and carrying capacity’ of the organisation in its revised plans.

The employees’ council is still considering a formal reaction, but according to the secretary, Nico Lenis, it is ‘not at all satisfied’ with the executive board’s reaction. If the COR is not prepared to change its recommendations, the conflict could lead to legal action. The executive board may ignore the demands of the employees’ council if it can substantiate its reasons. The matter would then be taken to the national Commercial Chamber to determine whether the board has adhered to the rules for employees’ participation. / KV

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