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News from the NWO Central Works Council (Inside NWO-I March 2019)

The NWO Central Works Council (COR NWO) represents the interests of all NWO and NWO-I employees in consultation with the NWO executive board. In this newsletter you can read all about the Central Works Council elections on 8 April and a survey that the Central Works Council recently held among NWO employees about “Unequal treatment” compared to colleagues at the universities and NWO-I. In this newsletter we also introduce COR NWO member Arno Gregoor, project auditor at NWO Institute ASTRON in Dwingeloo.

Central Works Council elections in April 2019
New elections will be held for the NWO Central Works Council on 8 April 2019. The current term of two years will then have been completed. In April/May there are also works council elections at many institutes as well as at NWO-D and the NWO-I Office. The works councils of AMOLF, ASTRON, ARCNL, CWI, DIFFER, Nikhef, NIOZ, SRON, NWO-D and NWO-I Office and the personal representation of NSCR, determine which representatives they send to the Central Works Council. PhDs employed by NWO-I, but who work at universities, have two seats in the NWO Central Works Council. Elections for the Central Works Council will be held on 8 April.

Results survey “Unequal treatment” among PhDs from the BUW
The NWO Central Works Council recently held a survey among BUW employees. BUW is the acronym for NWO-I PhDs who work within the Administrative Unit for Research Groups at Universities (Beheerseenheid Universitaire Werkgroepen). There were signals that universities were treating this group differently than their own employees and that there were also differences with NWO-I colleagues. We would like to inform you about the outcomes of the survey. The NWO Central Works Council received 23 of the 341 surveys sent, a response rate of less than 7%. The survey results revealed no serious problems that deserve top priority from the NWO executive board. The responses did, however, reveal that respondents feel that BUW employees are left by the wayside: they feel that they are not treated as fully fledged employees by the university or by their own employer, NWO-I.

Within NWO-I
The results of the survey revealed, for example, that the BUW employees would like access to Joost, the intranet of NWO. Equally BUW employees, just like NWO-employee at institutes, the NWO-I office and university colleagues, would appreciate receiving a token of appreciation at Christmas in the form of a Christmas hamper. A personal invitation for participation in the annual NWO sports day would also be highly appreciated.

Within the universities
The BUW employees are employed by NWO-I, but work at universities throughout the Netherlands. There the employees come up against the following bottlenecks, for example:

  • At Utrecht University, BUW employees cannot vote for the University Council.
  • At VU Amsterdam, BUW employees receive no discount for the sports centre.
  • At VU Amsterdam, BUW employees cannot make use of the e-learning system.
  • At VU Amsterdam, BUW employees cannot gain access to the Mathematics and Science building outside of office hours.
  • At Eindhoven University of Technology, BUW employees do not receive twelve free parking days at the university car park.
  • Specific bottlenecks: regulations that BUW employees cannot make use of, whereas the university concerned subjects them to the same obligations as their immediate colleagues.

Consultation with the NWO Executive Board representative
The NWO Central Works Council discussed the results of the survey with the NWO executive board representative. The representative responded positively and posed several additional questions. The Central Works Council will respond to these in writing. The representative has pledged that the points stated will be examined. For example, the HRM department of the NWO-I office will be asked to contact the universities and to seek a solution for the specific bottlenecks mentioned. Further, the representative will examine the possibilities for giving BUW` employees a Christmas gift, either via the faculty concerned or from NWO-I.

Questions
For all HRM questions, BUW employees can contact Joost Weber from the HRM department of NWO-I (j.weber@nwo.nl) and, if necessary, the head of the HRM department Liz van Dijk (l.vandijk@nwo.nl). Please pose any other questions you may have to the NWO Central Works Council via cor@nwo.nl.

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Introducing NWO Central Works Council member Arno Gregoor
‘You must collaborate as a team, otherwise you’ll fail'

Arno Gregoor, member of the NWO Central Works Council (COR NWO), is thoroughly acquainted with NWO. After nine years of working at NWO in The Hague, he switched in 2000 to NWO Institute ASTRON and moved with his family to Drenthe. He is not only passionate about and committed to his work at ASTRON, but with the entire of NWO. That is partly clear from his role as NWO Central Works Council member in which he places themes such as job satisfaction, personal development, collaboration and knowledge sharing on the agenda. The idea of a single NWO plays a key role both within the organisation and the Central Works Council. ‘You must work together as a team, otherwise you’ll fail."

‘I have been a member of the local works council of ASTRON for 14 years and the Central Works Council for more than 10 years. As a Central Works Council member, I represent a large group of people and so I believe it is important to genuinely contribute something to their job satisfaction. You need to know the plans of the institutes and the NWO organisation, what issues play a role and, in particular, to exert influence on these. Sometimes those efforts are successful and sometimes not. NWO is, of course, bound to rules and subject to much political influence as well. You can compare it to a drawing or colouring picture. The lines are fixed, but you can help to determine how you fill these in and which colours you use. ’

Many changes in the Central Works Council
‘Before the transition, our Central Works Council consisted of representatives from NWO The Hague and the institutes. Now the Central Works Council consists of the entire NWO domain organisation, the NWO-I office and all NWO Institutes. It has therefore become quite a bit larger. That sometimes gives rise to efficiency issues. Examples are meetings that take longer and more parties that have a say. With the Central Works Council members, we want to itemise whether this is desirable in this form and how we could improve this in consultation with the executive board representative.’

New NWO
‘Since the transition, much has changed within NWO, and it will still be a while before the one NWO feeling lives throughout the organisation. At ASTRON we are, of course, a long way from The Hague, some 200 kilometres. Due to the distance, it is difficult, for example, to participate in the NWO sports day or to attend lectures and that is sometimes a shame. Nevertheless, it is clear that a number of colleagues within ASTRON are indeed interested in working together with colleagues from the other institutes. This mainly concerns colleagues with a technical background. I hope for these people that the 70/30 principle in which you spend 30% of your work time at another organisation unit can be realised in practice.’

People as capital
‘As a member of the Central Works Council, I believe it is important that my NWO colleagues acquire the feeling that they work for a single organisation and that they are doing something genuinely worthwhile. The people within NWO are our capital. I hope to be able to contribute to NWO providing space for personal growth in the organisation. By removing boundaries and sharing knowledge, colleagues gain an understanding of each other's position and situation. Then you also visit each other at different locations, and you acquire internal cohesion. I want people to be able to enjoy their work as then you retain them in your organisation.
Within the Central Works Council, we also need to try and think from a single organisational perspective. After the transition, we acquired an entirely new composition, and we still need to develop that feeling of unity within the Central Works Council as well. Once again: you must work together as a team, otherwise you’ll fail. For this, we jointly need to remember the objective of NWO: serving science in a transparent manner.’

About Arno Gregoor
‘I worked for nine years at NWO The Hague (in Financial Affairs) and during a working visit to ASTRON in Drenthe I saw an interesting vacancy. I had always wanted to move to that part of the country, partly because my mother's family comes from Oldeberkoop in Friesland and we were there each holiday. So I seized the opportunity and in 2000, I started to work in Dwingeloo in the Financial Affairs department. The entire family moved and we settled in Beilen. I enjoy my work at ASTRON, and we now all feel at home in Drenthe.'

Newsletter Inside NWO-I, March 2019
Interview Arno Gregoor: Melissa Vianen

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