Employee participation elections still uncertain

Who wants to stand for election to the Works Council and its Personnel Committees? This question is becoming more urgent now that the nomination deadline is approaching.

As it now seems, there will only be elections at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. (Photo: Lucas de Leeuw)

The elections for the Works Council and the 10 Personnel Committees are set for 3 and 4 November, but there is a strong chance that, just as three years ago, the lack of candidates may mean that no or only local elections will be held. This information came from Works Council Chair Biemla Sewnandan who called on staff to stand for election. The deadline is 17:00 on 6 October.

Sewnandan does not have exact figures of current levels of interest. According to the information that she does have, 19 people are interested in standing for the Works Council elections, 13 of whom are already in the Works Council. And this is against the backdrop of the Works Council having two extra seats this year because of a rise in the number of TU Delft employees. At the last elections, there were exactly the same number of candidates as there were seats: 23. The question now is whether 25 people, and preferably more, are interested in a seat on the Works Council.

Sewnandan herself will step down after the handover. The Chair has gone through many intense periods. She has seen colleagues retire, leaving just 15 occupied seats. “You sometimes have to do overtime. This is part of the job, but it meant that I had less time for my own IT work. I knew from the start that it would be for just one term and it was on this condition that my IT colleagues gave me support.”

Sewnandan expects that the only elections will be in Aerospace Engineering. But the elections committee, through Works Council Secretary Erik Louw stated that nothing is definite until the candidate list is submitted. What he does know is that nine of the 10 working groups are currently understaffed. Only the local employee participation at QuTech has enough members. In the eight faculties and University Services, it’s tight.

New party
But Louw, who is also stepping down, is not pessimistic. “We hear encouraging noises once in a while and I have the impression that there is more interest in membership of the Works Council and Personnel Committees than there was three years ago. We have worked on our PR over the last three years and staff are approaching us more often with questions.”

PhD’s are trying to unite in one party

Jointly, the Personnel Committees have the right to 114 seats, of which 10 are occupied by Works Council members. Nominees to employee participation must be employed by TU Delft for at least six months and become members of parties such as the FNV (federation of trades unions in the Netherlands) or Democratisch Beleid (democratic policy). People may also set up new parties.

That is precisely the plan of the two members who now occupy the Works Council fraction of CMHF/AC-HOP/CNV. Together with a third candidate, Marleen Keijzer and Maarten Bakker will continue under the name Academisch Belang. Keijzer explains that the reason that they are leaving CMHF/AC-HOP/CNV is because there is little contact anymore with the trades unions that used to support the party. “The trades unions and their internal organisation have changed and this is why we are continuing independently.” Whether her old party will continue is uncertain at the moment.

Apart from this, there is one more initiative that may increase the number of candidates. Just as three years ago, PhD’s are trying to unite in one party. Whether this will work out is unclear. Louw says that “It is an initiative that needs support as this group of staff is barely represented in the Works Council.”

Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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