Vocational studies boards refuse to sign agreement with ministry
Dutch middle and higher vocational studies boards go back on their words and are now saying the EUR 26 million allocated to raise their salaries is not enough.2 July 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The middle and higher vocational studies boards are refusing to sign an agreement with Education Minister Ronald Plasterk and the teaching unions on raising teachers' salaries.
In April, all the parties agreed the deal whereby the minister divided EUR 1 billion between the various Dutch educational bodies. The overall aim was to tackle the forecast shortage of teachers and raise the status of the teaching profession.
The minister earmarked EUR 26 million for colleges of further education which offer vocational studies to school leavers. However, the vocational educational boards are now saying that recent research shows the amount is not enough to raise teachers' salaries in line with the union demands.
Their refusal to sign the agreement puts EUR 170 million-worth of long-term salary increases for the sector in jeopardy.
The teaching unions are furious at the development. One union leader says: "This is a very serious situation. They are trying to go back to the negotiating table. It's unbelievable and irresponsible."
Another puts it even more bluntly: "They are breaking their word and failing to solve the shortage of teachers in vocational education."
Plasterk is simply calling the refusal to sign the document "odd", pointing out that the boards signed the earlier draft agreement with rank-and-file backing.
He also says they only made their position clear a few hours before the document was due to be signed. The minister has ruled out re-opening talks on dividing the EUR 1 billion, saying he thinks the boards will sign the accord "after a night's sleep".
The representatives of the primary and secondary school sectors plan to go ahead and sign the deal. The teaching unions and Socialist Party MPs are calling on the minister to force the vocational studies boards to honour the agreement.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]