Organisation - June 21, 2010

Getting closer to the VHL merger

It is looking as though the executive board of Wageningen UR and the employees’ councils at Van Hall and Larenstein are coming closer to an agreement in their negotiations on a full merger of the two applied science institutions.

But the employees' council (MR) at Van Hall in Larenstein is sticking to its demand that the Animal Management programme only be offered in Leeuwarden for a few years. The Larenstein MR wants its own executive board and also refuses to budge on the issue of the Larenstein estate in Velp. On Tuesday, the Wageningen UR board met with representatives of both MRs in Zwolle to discuss an institutional merger. Both parties described the negotiations as positive and constructive. Before midnight on Friday, the executive board wants both MRs to produce a revised position paper.
Staff services
Van Hall only wants to agree to a merger if 22 conditions are met. On 18 of the points there is a fair degree of agreement with the Wageningen UR board, says MR chair Hans Bezuijen. And one major condition, that the division of staff services be equally divided between the institutes, has been met.

Animal Management
Initially, the MR demanded that Animal Management stay in Leeuwarden for ten years. They have not withdrawn the demand but are willing to discuss the ten years, says Bezuijen. Executive board spokesman Simon Vink says the board agrees on the importance of Animal Management, but does not want to commit itself to ten years. But he stresses that nothing will be done to weaken the position of the programme in Leeuwarden. 'On the contrary, by investing in the Dairy Campus (a 20-million-euro research and education collaboration with the province of Friesland and the city of Leeuwarden) will only strengthen it.'
Own board
Larenstein has its own set of conditions too. One of them is to have its own board. 'To defend our own interests', says Larenstein MR chair Dennis de Jager. 'Dijkhuizen now wears two hats. He chairs the VHL board and the Wageningen UR board.' Another demand, for a guarantee that the Velp estate remain the property of Larenstein, is not linked to the merger, according to Vink. 'There are no plans to get rid of the estate. Everyone sees that it is a useful asset. But you do have to be able to carry the costs.'