The strike will be the grand finale of a national week of action, organized by the General Education Union (AOb) and trade union FNV Education and Research.
Representing the universities, protest movement WOinActie, the driving force behind the national demonstration in The Hague on December 14th of last year, is supporting the week of action, “and in principle the strike too,” says its founder Rens Bod, professor at the University of Amsterdam. “But only on the condition that our representatives at the universities agree to it.” Whether this is the case will be seen at a national meeting on January 21st.
The demands of the AOb and FNV Education and Research with regard to higher education, both vocational and academic, are largely the same as those of WOinActie: the efficiency discount must be shelved and in its place 1.15 billion euros must be invested as “overdue financing” in university education. The money made available by the abolition of the basic grant must be used to appoint extra lecturers.
The universities of applied sciences do not have their own dedicated action group and are being represented by the trade unions. “Like the university employees we too are demanding that the efficiency discount be scrapped. For the rest, we want more staff and higher pay,” says executive officer Douwe Dirk van der Zweep of the AOb.
He stresses that the demands are directed at politicians – it is no coincidence that the strike is being held five days before the Provincial Council elections on March 20th – not at employers. “And so it is our assumption that the institutions will help us make this possible.”
TU/e board spokesperson Barend Pelgrim reports that the board members ‘will not be actively involved and feel sympathetic towards the initiative’. “We are giving everyone, students and employees alike, the opportunity to participate. For the time being we have no reason at all to suppose that lectures will be cancelled.”