Organisation - November 18, 2010

‘Phase out Executive Board’s bonuses’

The State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Zijlstra, is threatening to cut government funding because of the Executive Board’s pay. The Employees Council chairman wants the bonus for Dijkhuizen, the Chairman of the Executive Board, to be abolished altogether.

All the bonuses for the Wageningen UR managers should be phased out, says Cees van Dijk, the chairman of the Central Employees Council. He hopes that the Supervisory Board will eventually enforce this. This is Van Dijk's response to the announcement by the State Secretary, Halbe Zijlstra (VVD), at the start of November that he wants to implement cuts in funds for universities that pay their board members more than the Prime Minister's salary, the so-called 'Balkenende norm'.
The three Wageningen board members are among the top earners in the world of education. But Margreet de Boer of the Wageningen Supervisory Board has already let it be known that employment law does not allow the State Secretary to intervene in the Executive Board's pay. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent Dijkhuizen and his colleagues are 'education board members' as much of their time (46 per cent) is spent on the research institutes.
However Dick Verduin, spokesperson for the trade unions, thinks the WUR executives should pay attention to the government's criticisms, especially now that the collective labour agreement negotiations have stalled. 'The Board won't agree to a pay rise for staff in the collective labour agreement negotiations but their own pay rose by nearly 7 per cent in 2009', he says. 'Although we have no formal say in their salary, we will be questioning it in our negotiations with the Association of Universities (VSNU).'
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Central Employees Council, Van Dijk, is focusing primarily on the bonuses. 'Last year, we agreed that the bonuses would be reduced from a maximum of thirty per cent of salary to a maximum of ten per cent over a period of three to four years. The Supervisory Board gave a verbal undertaking last year to do this. I am fully confident that they will keep to this.' But that is not the end of the matter as far as he is concerned - Van Dijk would really like to phase out the bonuses entirely.

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