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Association of Universities in the Netherlands and trade unions reach negotiation settlement regarding new collective labour agreement

The trade unions/employee organisations FNV, AC/FBZ, CNV Overheid and VAWO/CMHF and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands have reached a negotiation settlement regarding a new collective labour agreement that will affect the roughly 50,000 academic staff in the Netherlands. The collective labour agreement is set to run from 1 July 2017 - 31 December 2019 inclusive and the settlement includes agreements regarding more employment prospects for junior lecturers and post-doctoral researchers, mobility and long-term employability of support staff, a vitality pact and a salary increase across the board. 

The negotiation settlement was the result of fruitful cooperation between the employers and employee organisations, who worked together to ascertain both the needs of the sector and those of the employees. The key elements of the negotiation settlement are: 

• General increase plus one-off salary increase: on 1 May 2018, the salaries of university staff who are employed at a Dutch University will be increased by 2.0% across the board. On 1 February 2019, these salaries will receive a general increase of 2.6%. In addition, university employees who are employed by a Dutch University on 1 May 2018 will receive a one-off lump sum payment of 0.6% of their gross annual salary by September 2018; 

• More employment prospects for junior lecturers and post-doctoral researchers: junior lecturers will be offered longer non-recurring temporary contracts (four to six years). This will result in a further reduction in the number of short-term contracts. Junior lecturers with teaching ambitions will be facilitated in moving on to a job in one of the other education sectors. In addition, the parties are committed to ensuring these junior lecturers are fast-tracked with regard to obtaining their teaching qualification. An opportunity will be created for junior lecturers with research ambitions to take up a combined position of a junior lecturer and researcher with a one-time temporary employment contract, in principle for a period of six years. The lecturer will obtain their University Teaching Qualification (BKO) during this period and will be expected to complete their PhD successfully. With regard to post-doctoral researchers, the parties will undertake to identify how their prospects and employment security on the job market can be enhanced; 

• Mobility and long-term employability of support staff: the collective bargaining parties have embedded ‘lifelong learning’ in the career pathway for support positions. In the future, any employee in a supporting role who has a permanent contract within the collective labour agreement will carry out their duties in that role for a period of four to six years as standard. During this period, these employees will be developing their skills in preparation towards a next step in their career; 

• Vitality pact: Dutch universities will enable employees to reduce their working hours by 0.2 FTE or 0.4 FTE (based on full-time employment) up to five years before entitlement to an old-age pension/retirement age, with compensation of 85% or 70%, respectively, of their original salary, while retaining full pension accrual entitlements. The scheme will be provisionally implemented for a limited period of time, from 1 January 2019 to 1 July 2020. 


In addition to the aspects listed above, agreements have also been reached with regard to the implementation of workload reduction plans, the extension of appointments of PhD students on pre-maternity and post-maternity/parental leave and an ombudsman pilot in at least three universities. By the 30th of June at the latest, following consultation of those represented, the parties will determine whether this negotiation settlement will be converted into a definitive agreement.  


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Ruben Puylaert


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Liselotte de Langen

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