Organisation - December 10, 2010

VHL management clashes with staff

The management of Van Hall Larenstein cut off consultations with the employees’ council today. The council has little confidence in director Ellen Marks.

The management of Van Hall Larenstein suspended consultations with the employees' council today, until further notice. In a letter written on Monday, the management states that the relationship is 'not constructive'. 'Important processes are being delayed and this is not in the interests of the organization.'
In its turn, the employees' council at Van Hall Larenstein has little confidence in general director Ellen Marks. Representatives of the council are talking to Wageningen UR executive board chair Aalt Dijkhuizen today about the situation.

No confidence
Feelings are running high, as is clear from the letter from the employees' council to the management. The letter states that director Ellen Marks 'has repeatedly shown that she does not understand what sort of organization she is leading.' According to employees' council chair Dennis de Jager, this is tantamount to a vote of no confidence. 'The management has no bond with the institution', he claims. He describes it as 'unacceptable' that the management has suspended consultations with the council and doubts the legality of the move. 'Like this no decision can be made on important issues such as the reorganization of staff services and ICT provision.' The management has proposed mediation, but the employees' council does not see much future in that.

Flatter organization
The roots of the conflict lie partly in the new management structure that Marks aims to introduce. Study programme directors are to be replaced by teamleaders. This will create a flatter organization with fewer management layers, lower overheads and more say for employees. But De Jager thinks the study programmes need to be given more influence, not less. And he says Marks is not open to criticism of the intended structure, especially from Velp.
Ellen Marks declined to comment and referred to spokesman Simon Vink of the executive council. He did not want to go into details either. He did, however, confirm that there has been a loss of trust. 'But I have every confidence that the two parties will arrive at a solution. We must have some calm discussions together.'

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