Averages do not say much, as Rien Wijnhoven asserted in his interview with Bas Belleman on 26 October. In his interview, he sketched a gloomy picture of employee participation at universities. As Chair of the TU Delft Works Council, I believe that it is a lot better here than the average. Our Works Council has both support and academic staff, young and old members. For both the Works Council and for a couple of its Personnel Committees (the employee participation bodies in faculties and university services, Eds.) we found so many candidates that we had to hold elections a year ago.
The facilities and remuneration that we receive for our employee participation work are properly arranged. And I have never heard that participating in the employee participation, which I have done since 1994, is bad for my career. On the contrary, years ago my own supervisor put me under pressure to stay in the Works Council.
‘We are still working out how we can replace Works Council members halfway through the term’
We still have too few PhD candidates and tenure trackers on the Council, while they are part of the Personnel Committees. This is because of the strict three year term of service of the central employee participation system. We agreed with the Executive Board, in 2020, that PhD’s could also join for 18 months. They will be compensated in the form of an extension to their appointment and financial remuneration for their department.
We are still working out how we can replace these Works Council members halfway through the term. At present we are in contact with the University PhD Council (UPC) on this so that we can take their input to the negotiations with the Executive Board. A new type of contract for doctoral candidates is currently on the table, which is fully considering UPC’s input. In this informal sense, the doctoral candidates are part of the employee participation system already.
Thus, TU Delft’s employee participation is going well and I sooner expect an increase in interest from the shop floor than a decrease. The reason for this? The introduction of structural ‘hybrid’ work affects us all and will probably not take shape in one go. The Board is likely to have to regularly consult the employee participation bodies over the coming years.
We, the Works Council, contribute to TU Delft’s success and at the same time, from the perspective of employees, we ensure that it remains a good place to work. Who doesn’t want to work on this?
Dr Menno Blaauw is chairman of the Work’s Council of TU Delft and IMS manager at the Reactor Institute, after 20 years as a scientist there.