Bickering over reorganisation KVI-Cart

A two-month extension has not made the university council any more willing to issue a positive recommendation on the reorganisation of KVI-Cart.
By Christien Boomsma / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

‘You talk a good game, but you’re not listening to us’, said Laurence Gormley with the Science Faction to board president Jouke de Vries during the council’s committee meeting.

He was referring to the fact that the council and the board of directors have been having the same argument about the impending reorganisation at research institute KVI-Cart.

The board says the institute is suffering from the persistent deficits and that there is no improvement in sight. Therefore, the board wants to move particle accelerator AGOR and a selection of employees to the UMCG. Another group of employees would be able to start work for the science faculty, after which the KVI-Cart would be dissolved.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

But the board is refusing to promise that no one will be fired during this process, and the university council is unhappy about this. The research institute itself paints a completely different picture of the situation: the deficits were reportedly caused by overdue maintenance to the particle accelerator in 2016.

The board consented to the maintenance and allowed a grace period of five years in which the institute could prove itself. But now the board has reneged on this agreement. On top of that, neither the UMCG nor the FSE have said how much of the staff they’re willing to take over.

Thus, Gormley concluded that the chances of a positive recommendation on the reorganisation are at zero.

The council factions were also annoyed at the fact that the board has taken further measures that would lead to the reorganisation becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Internal vacancies

Earlier, it had been said that contracts had been blocked, which meant the institute missed out on funding. Today, it turned out that employees at KVI-Cart are being given priority for internal vacancies at the RUG, and that some people have made use of this.

‘The board says we can’t get started on a bunch of research before the reorganisation has been officially announced. At the same time, they’re taking measures with the reorganisation in mind’, said Dirk-Jan Scheffers with the personnel faction. ‘What they’re doing makes it seem like reorganisation is inevitable.’

In December, an open vacancy at the institute was withdrawn, leading to the work stress at the particle accelerator being at an unacceptable level.
De Vries did not appear to be moved during the meeting, however. He kept saying that the KVI-Cart was in dire financial straits. He said he ‘didn’t believe’ the way the others looked at the situation. He said the fact that a technician recently left the institute has nothing to do with the impending reorganisation. ‘People come and go. I have no idea if it has anything to with the current discussion.’

Obstacle

The discussion did end on a somewhat positive note. After the UMCG responded positively, the only obstacle that remains is the Faculty of Science and Engineering, which only wants to take over the astrophysicists and not the nuclear physics employees.

‘Can FSE simply refuse to take these people? Is there nothing you can do about that at all?’ Bart Beijer with the personnel faction asked. ‘What if you said that, to avoid any redundancies, the entire group can be moved to FSE?’

De Vries seemed interested in the notion. ‘That is an interesting suggestion. I would like to figure this out. FSE has made its position clear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to find a solution to the problem.’

The council will vote on the proposed announcement to reorganise the KVI-Cart on 28 March.

Nederlands

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