New CAO final, work pressure retains a top spot on the agenda
This week the new CAO (Collective Labour Agreement) for Dutch universities became definitive: both trade unions and universities have expressed their support for the results achieved in the negotiations. This is good news, and certainly not just due to the pay increases included in the new agreements. The CAO is actually about a lot more. In the busy weeks right before summertime, nearly every teacher and researcher will have been straining under their heavy workload even more than usual. Universities and labour unions take the problem of work pressure among university staff very seriously. This is why last year every university set up a plan of action to reduce work pressure. We subsequently organised a meeting about this issue, in which universities could learn from measures that others have taken. Building on this:
- In the new CAO it was agreed that junior lecturers and post-doctoral researchers will get more job security wherever possible. Short-term appointments can be a source of stress, and universities will be reducing this by offering more long-term temporary appointments and reducing the number of short-term appointments. They will also offer longer-term employment contracts, lasting four or six years, more often.
- Remuneration incentives for university staff do not always do justice to all the tasks that matter most to us. This is why at VSNU we are working on a new basis to value and reward all tasks. After all, research is a core task, but it isn't the only one. Teaching and assisting students, as well as the efforts to increase the impact of research, will be playing a larger role. We will also further explore how we can give recognition to teams and the individual contributions within them.
- Grant and subsidy applications are a source of work pressure for many researchers. The application system is complex and extensive, and the chances of success are often small. VSNU is working together with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to bring down this application pressure and is trying to involve other financing agencies too, like the European Commission.
- Factors that contribute to work pressure are not just found outside the university. There is also plenty that can be done internally in order to make more convenient arrangements for our staff. For this reason, universities have agreed to do something about their own red tape. This will result in less time spent on administrative tasks and more time becoming available to conduct research and teach.
With these measures we are making a serious effort to reduce the work pressure of university staff. At the same time, we will also continue with our involvement in politics, asking for fewer rules and more efficient accountability and control, as well as more financial room from direct government funding.