Unions angry over UG failing to apply inflation adjustment for scholarship PhDs 

In addition to the PhD interest organisations, unions have now also expressed their anger with the UG board of directors’ decision not to apply inflation adjustment to scholarship PhDs’ pay.

In a joint letter, the FNV, AOb, CNV, and PNN ask the board to reconsider its decision. ‘Primarily because it concerns here a fulfilment of contractual obligations, but also because these PhDs already have a hard time making ends meet, which the current intense inflation only worsens (being a good employer)’, they write.

They say the UG has until October 24 to reconsider. ‘If we don’t receive a response in due time or sufficiently substantiated, we will deliberate follow-up measures and potential legal steps’, the unions threatened.

Contract

The scholarship PhDs were dismayed to find out in September that they wouldn’t be getting the 9,6 percent pay increase their contract detailed. Instead, the UG limited the pay increase to 4 percent, the same increase university employees get.

This was a reasonable increase according to PhD scholarship programme project manager Marjan Koopmans. Following the consumer price index would result in such a high increase as to be ‘impossible’, she said to UKrant. She also said there were ‘many different indices’.

Complaints

However, the scholarship PhDs disagree. Interest organisation Groningen Graduate Interest Network (GRIN) demands the decision be reversed and dozens of PhDs turned to the PhD Scholarship Desk to complain. In fact, the number of complaints is so large that the Scholarship Desk hasn’t been able to reply to each one personally.

GRIN has since had a conversation with dean of the Graduate Schools Petra Rudolf. The UG board of directors will announce its decision during the university council meeting of October 27.

Substantive conversation

According to Björn de Kruijf with GRIN, the conversation with the dean of Graduate Schools went well. ‘The board of directors may have a different opinion, but we had a proper substantive conversation. We were able to get our points across. In the end, we determined that we’re agreeing to disagree.’

Dean Petra Rudolf was also happy with the conversation, she says. ‘I hope that GRIN understands that the situation is much more complicated than they think. The contract doesn’t state that we have to heed a single specific index. It only says we as a university decided to adjust their scholarship. And there is an index for each individual month.’

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