‘Work pressure at universities has increased’

Measures taken by universities to reduce work pressure have had little effect. A new research carried out by the unions show that university staff experience the same pressure as before, and sometimes even more. A national education strike will take place at the Malieveld in The Hague on Friday, March the 15th. PhD student Luuk van Iperen tries to enthuse people at TU/e.

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Unions FNV and VAWO have polled over 1,100 university staff members for the second time since FNV’s initial research three years ago. 67 percent of all respondents still describe the work pressure as high or very high. Academics (76 percent) experience more work pressure than supporting staff (50 percent).

71 percent of respondents believe that work pressure has increased over the past two years, and 65 percent say they have considered changing jobs.

Little effect

According to respondents, measures taken by universities to reduce work pressure have had little effect. Of the respondents working at universities that took measures, 62 percent say work pressure has stayed the same, and 29 percent even believe it has increased. According to VAWO spokeswoman Marijtje Jongsma, this is because universities “simply do not have enough staff to do all the work adequately.”

FNV, VAWO and action group WOinActie demand an extra investment of 1,5 billion euros from minister of education Ingrid van Engelshoven. They also want the so-called ‘efficiency cut’ off the table as well as more direct government funding for research. University staff will be campaigning this week. They will also join the national education strike at the Malieveld in The Hague.

Every man for himself campaign

Luuk van Iperen, PhD student at the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, represents WOinActie at TU/e. He has received several questions concerning the strike. They range from questions about transportation to the possibility of shifting courses. Van Iperen outlined the issue and called on people to go on strike in a donotreply-mail last Monday. At this point, Van Iperen can’t estimate how many TU/e staff members intend to travel to The Hague on Friday. “Right now, it’s an ‘every man for himself campaign,’ but I hope colleagues will stimulate each other to go on strike.”

It is Van Iperen’s job to “inspire people at TU/e and function as a liaison for the entire organization. I act on behalf of WOinActie, but of course I fully support their objective and I hope many others will be able to make themselves heard as well. We saw the massive climate change march last week. It was a great success, which is wonderful. What I would like to add though, is that without good science, data on climate will no longer be available in the future.”

Van Iperen thinks it is very unlikely the Executive Board will support the campaign, for instance by providing transportation. Spokesman Barend Pelgrim has already said that the Board supports the campaign and that the university will offer individual students the opportunity to take part in the strike.

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