Organisatie - 25 april 2017

Wageningen Environmental Research must make further cuts

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen Environmental In order to stay afloat, Wageningen Environmental Research must lose a further 40 jobs in addition to the 60 FTEs it has already cut. ESG director Bram de Vos made the announcement to staff at the institute last week.

Photo: WUR

Last year, Wageningen Environmental Research lost millions of euros, and this year is no better. The institute must now economise even further to stand a chance of getting out of the red. Team Nature & Society, consisting of over twenty people, will be disbanded. Cuts will also be made in the Biodiversity & Policy, Climate Change and Water & Food teams. The Werk naar Werk-regeling (‘From job to job scheme’) will apply to all four teams. Interviews will be held with all the staff concerned to see whether their jobs are tenable or if they must start looking for another position or job.

Too little work
Last year, Wageningen Environmental Research started a recovery plan. It featured new, market-oriented programmes, a push for research projects with bigger margins, a new structure for the research teams and the loss of 60 jobs. At present, 38 members of staff have left on a voluntary basis. Last year, however, it became clear that the cuts would not be sufficient. Too many staff have too little work and too many projects are running at a loss. In addition, the Dutch government is now commissioning fewer research projects relating to nature, climate and the environment. Projects commissioned by the EU rarely cover their own costs.

Market potential
The cuts made over the last twelve months were realised through early retirement and natural wastage. In the year to come, ESG director Bram de Vos wants to make more targeted cuts in the research organisation, taking the market potential and competencies of the various teams into account. At the start of last year, Wageningen Environmental Research employed 350 staff members, 100 of whom will now lose their jobs.

The institute’s works council has not yet expressed an opinion about the tightening up of the downsizing plan. The council is due to meet on 11 May to discuss the recovery plan and hopes to make its recommendations within 6 weeks. According to its chair Paul Hinssen, the works council is pleased that ESG management is using the Werk naar Werk-regeling and intends to involve the council in the implementation of the downsizing plan.