The negotiators for the universities and the unions made a statement last Friday that the current labour agreement would be extended until 1 October 2011. In November, staff will receive a one-off payment of five hundred euros, followed by a pay rise of half a percent from February 2011.
'It is a modest agreement', admits Marieke van den Berg, board member of the Abvakabo/ FNV union, but she says there was no more to be gained. 'I am convinced that this is the maximum that was achievable at this point.' She is happy that universities have abandoned the salary freeze and thinks the demonstrations at the openings of the academic year in several universities made a difference.
In the agreement, which still has to be ratified by the universities and the union rank and file, agreements have been made on helping disabled people to get jobs faster. Career policies need to be given a new impulse too. 'It should be normal for employees to talk with someone on a regular basis about their work', says Van den Berg, who think that does not happen enough at present. 'A job that is nice now might not be nice in five years' time, or it might not even exist. So it is good for everyone to keep on developing, and to get the chance to do so.'