First of all, why did you decide to contribute to the works council?
‘The COR is important for the organisation and for the directors. I think that the COR members have a similar role to what journalists do for politics: alerting, the objective view, monitoring processes and contributing ideas is in everyone's interest. In my view, that is the added value of a properly functioning works council.’
Which subject is at the top of your list now?
‘The work pressure. Due to the transition, some people have become overworked, especially in support services of the institutes. The collaboration with the central organisation possibly plays a role in this: things now need to be supplied in a different way or the coordination works differently. An example is the provision of the quarterly reports and the figures for the close of the financial year. The usefulness and need of this must first of all be clear to the individual institutes as well.
I think the COR needs to raise awareness about the subject of work pressure. If you notice that the work pressure is too high, then what do you do? So we need to be aware of this as an organisation. The COR has a role to play in this regard. At the same time, a fairly high work pressure is also logical because, as a researcher, you are effectively participating in top-level sport. You must be willing and able to do that. Just like an athlete who competes at the top level. At a research institute, there is no room for recreation.’
You were already a member of the COR, so why did you take on the role of chair?
‘Chairing is in my DNA: my father was the chair of the local retailers’ association in Heemstede, and now my daughter is the chair of the works council where she works as well. I am also chair of the athletics association in Zaandam, and for more than 20 years, I was chair of the governors of a school organisation.
I’m now 64 years old, and that means I can only complete a single term as chair of the COR. I do feel that’s a shame. I like to complete things because I’m an endurance athlete.'
How can you ensure that employees become more involved with the COR?
‘Colleagues do not simply reach out to us or come to us. I think this is a problem for many organisations: the connection with the works council is, in general, not that strong. Nevertheless, as the COR, we need to work on this. For example, during CWI’s update meetings, I tell colleagues about what is happening at the COR. Another example is: we meet once a month in Utrecht but every other month on site at an NWO institute. This also allows us to invite the local works councils and to hear what is going on. In this way, we gain an impression about the type of council they are: active or cautious? Furthermore, we also want to appear regularly in newsletters –like this one– to inform colleagues and, if possible, to involve them in the subjects we are working on. Finally, everybody is welcome to attend our meetings. You just need to register in advance via firstname.lastname@example.org.’
These are the COR members.
Newsletter Inside NWO-I, September 2019