He has been home on unemployment benefits since March. His name has already been removed from the staff side on the university side. But when it comes to Scholte, that name will soon return.
In March 2018, he started working at the university as a ‘Teacher Interdisciplinary Social Sciences’. He has previously worked at the University of Twente and Radboud University Nijmegen. Also all on temporary contracts. That while he could use social security with three children.
“In my second year in Utrecht, I had a meeting with the department director. My assessments were good, they were satisfied. But if your contract expires in 2022, I can not give you a permanent contract,” the director said at the time. Works, it’s university policy. “
A new temporary contract was also not allowed, according to the agreement, a four-year contract is the maximum before anyone has to be hired. So he was on the street.
Good or bad employer?
“In mid-March, I applied for another position at the university. It was a vacancy for a substitute in September. Formally, I was entitled, because if you sit at home for six months and a day, they can give you a new one temporarily give a contract . “
However, his letter was not included in the application process. “Temporarily re-hiring me would be a sign of bad employers, they said. It’s Kafkaesque.”
Putting someone out on the street is not a good employer either, he argues. Moreover: afterwards he should have been given a permanent contract after his first year contract and should not have been given a new contract for three years.
“We are therefore arguing in court that the second temporary contract should never have been temporary, so I am actually still working there.”
His lawyer Twan Kersten from Van As Advocaten gives an explanation.
“The agreement states that, as a starting point, you can only get a temporary contract once. Then you can check if someone is doing their job well. By extension, it must be a permanent contract. There is an exception, someone can be a part of remain flexible if educational developments or student numbers justify it. “
New teachers hired
That’s not the case with Scholte. In fact, now that he is leaving (0.8 man-years), two new teachers have been hired because there are more students.
What the university is doing is also contrary to European rules, says Kersten. “The starting point is an indefinite contract. You can only award temporary contracts for tasks that are only to be performed temporarily.”
David vs. Goliath
“What I’m doing is not work that is no longer available in a little while. It’s construction work that includes a permanent contract,” says Scholte. A message from him on LinkedIn about the impending trial went viral. He received nearly 3,500 messages of support, and hundreds of people responded to his message.
“It makes me feel good. Similar stories come in, sometimes even more poignant. There are also people who say I’m throwing away my own glasses and that you do not win David’s fight against Goliath.”
Thousands of temporary teachers
However, he feels he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. For themselves, but ‘probably also for thousands of other teachers, for whom this situation also plays out’.
“I see it as a ‘test process’ to expose this behavior from the universities, where the agreement and the (senior) associate professors’ exposed employment position are being abused. A practice that simply has to end.”
Utrecht University does not want to comment specifically on the case because it is before the courts.
“Of course we are sad that a former employee has to go to court. We want to be a good employer. Therefore, we try to offer substitute teachers, where possible, security for a longer period of time. We strive to give a contract of at least 0, 7 FTE for four years, including time for development, instead of shorter contracts, “the university said in an email to RTL Z.
Permanent positions in Utrecht are reserved for employees who combine education and research and who meet the qualification requirements, says the university.
Scholte: “I would like to do research, I also got a PhD degree. However, there was no time for research on my work. Furthermore, it is an elitist idea that only an academic who does research is eligible to a permanent contract. ‘Normal’ teaching is not important enough as we train tomorrow’s academics. “
Due to the national shortage of staff, jobs are on the rise. But Scholte does not mind otherwise.
“I dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the students every time. I support them in their first steps in the academic world, in academic thinking. It’s what I know, what I want, it gives me energy. Practice with a revolving door construction must come to a It is also not good for the quality of education if students have different teachers all the time. “
The case will be presented to the court in Utrecht on 6 July. The verdict follows six weeks later
Until 2019, many lecturers at Utrecht University (UU) had a temporary contract of six months or one year. At the end of 2018, 350 teachers were employed on a temporary basis and 50 on a permanent basis.
That uncertainty was not good for the teachers, UU itself believes. From 2019, teachers will therefore have a 4-year contract. “When retraining, the teachers who have to leave after four years have enough baggage to continue,” spokesman Maarten Post said at the time. “When this long-term, temporary contract expires, it will not be renewed.
In the first quarter of 2022, UU employed 496 substitute teachers. “That increase is the result of the increase in the number of students, from approximately 31,000 in the 2017-2018 academic year, to 37,000 in the current academic year,” a spokesman said.
Two-thirds of this group of substitute teachers have an employment contract of at least 0.7 man-years, and more than half have a one-time four-year contract (that was 5 percent in 2019).