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WOinActie protest: ‘The next step is a strike’

Last Friday, over 2,000 lecturers, researchers and students came together in The Hague to…

The strike will be the grande finale of a nation-wide action week organised by Algemene Onderwijsbond (AOb, the trade union representing all educators) and the FNV Educators’ and Researchers’ trade union.

The WOinActie protest movement, the driving force behind the demonstration held in The Hague on 14 December 2018, supports the action week, ‘and the strike, as well, in principle’, says the movement’s initiator, Rens Bod, a professor at the University of Amsterdam. “However, our support [for the latter] is contingent on the approval of our representatives at the universities.” A meeting attended by representatives of all Dutch universities, to be held on 21 January, will show whether the strike has the representatives’ support.

Hiring additional lecturers

The demands drawn up by AOb and FNV Educators and Researchers largely match those expressed by WOinActie: the so-called ‘efficiency cuts’ (huge budgets cuts) must be cancelled, and instead, the Cabinet must earmark €1.15 billion for ‘overdue financial injections’ in tertiary education. All three parties want the funds that will become available due to the abolition of student grants to be used for the hiring of additional lecturers.

Dutch universities of applied sciences do not have an action club of their own and are represented by the aforementioned trade unions. “Just like university lecturers, we, too, demand that the efficiency cuts be taken off the table. In addition, we want more staff and higher wages,” says Douwe Dirk van der Zweep, who is on AOb’s Board.

Van der Zweep was quick to emphasise that the demands are addressed to politicians (there is a reason why the strike was scheduled for 20 March, i.e., five days before the elections for the provincial parliaments) rather than to employers (i.e., schools and universities). “Therefore, we assume that the institutions will help us make this happen.”