Many people at the university don’t even know that LO exists, let alone what we do. But when I see a colleague who is pleased with an appointment we’ve made, I do feel proud.
What characterizes you?
I am stubborn and an idealist: in faith in solidarity and in collective advocacy.
When did you first learn about VAWO?
A colleague told me about VAWO when I had specific questions about my contract. According to my colleague, VAWO specializes in the field of employment conditions at universities. So I switched from union to union and was indeed well informed by VAWO. What also appealed to me is that VAWO distinguishes itself both by its specialist character (as the only one in our sector) and that the accent is often different from that of many other trade unions: for example, VAWO finds academic freedom incredibly important and the salary section just a little less exciting. In any case, soon after I became a member, I announced that I also wanted to play an active role as a member. That's how things started.
Have you been involved with VAWO for a long time?
Yes, really long! I don't even know exactly how long. First as a board member, then also for VAWO as an OR member at my own university, later again as a Local Representative of VAWO. From board member I became secretary, followed by interim & duo chairman and yet I’m the spokesperson.
Why is VAWO so important to you?
Collective advocacy is now more important than ever. Unfortunately, too few employees realize this. Hardly anyone remembers that the collective agreement is negotiated with the trade unions. And at the moment the problems seem bigger than ever: look at the structural under funding, the temporary appointments, the fierce competition, the work pressure, the poor career prospects for early career scientists, you name it. Ad hoc groups that represent the interests of scientists are springing up. However, they often do not realize that they’re (partly) reinventing the phenomenon of trade unions, but without the formal status and infrastructure of a union. For example, as VAWO we have a delegation within the Social Economic Council (SER) and a seat at the collective labour agreement table, both nationally and locally in the implementation of the collective labour agreement at the level of the individual universities.
What are you most proud of in your work?
Within my VAWO work at the work I have done to limit the temporary appointments. I put a great deal of time and energy into this, but it did have an effect: based on my figures, VAWO director Donald Pechler was able to limit the number of temporary appointments in the collective agreement. I am still proud of that.
What will you fight for?
Um, I think the question rather is: what not? I'm afraid I’m part of the activist wing of VAWO. I like to take stand and I like to be functionally angry. At the moment there is a lot of excitement with WOinActie, student unions etc. It's important to shake it up because it's badly needed. And to be honest: in times when things are going well it is secretly a bit boring to be an active trade union member. That mainly consists of regular association affairs and that’s not what I was cut out for.
How do we see you outside the VAWO?
With EEG electrodes, in a lecture hall or in the woods with my dog.
Within my VAWO work at the work I have done to limit the temporary appointments. I put a great deal of time and energy into this, but it did have an effect: based on my figures, VAWO was able to limit the number of temporary appointments in the cao.
I am a straight forward kind of guy. I am also more steady than fast. Both my grandfathers were tug masters. They had to lead big ships with their small boats into the harbor. That requires agility and patience and apparently I got something out of it. Things don’t go fast for me, but I do get where I need to go.
I think I always look for nuance. So when someone says something, I first wonder what the other side of that story is. Perhaps that causes some people to think I may be a little reserved, but what I say isn’t necessarily the same as what someone else experiences. I think it’s important to take this into account.