University staff and student unions will join forces in protest next week against budget cuts during a national action week. Professor Rens Bod, initator of action group #WOinactie, explains.
From 22 to 25 May, dubbed ‘action week,’ teachers and student unions will hold protests. Their demand: more money for academic education and research. ‘We want to work together: teachers, students, the board, unions,’ says UvA professor Rens Bod (Digital Humanities), initiator of #WOinactie. ‘We want to send a clear signal.’
The initiators of action week include the National Student Union, the ASVA Student Union and action group #WOinactie, which has already presented a petition to the House of Representatives.
Why is action week important?
‘We want to call attention to the budget cuts being demanded of all universities. We have sent an ultimatum to the House of Representatives calling for a reduction of the so-called ‘efficiency cut’ of 183 million by September. We also want more structural investments to be made in education. The planned protests show that students agree with us.’
You recently spoke to minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture & Science). How did she respond?
‘The efficiency cut is still on the table, unfortunately, but Van Engelshoven no longer denies the situation. She said she understood us and that, if she were in our shoes, she would do the same thing but she has to keep the coalition agreement. She asked for a follow up meeting.’
What if the cabinet ignores your ultimatum?
‘If our demands have not been met by September, we will organise a teachers’ action week in which we’ll hold public lectures in places like the square outside Central Station, the ferries and trams. If this has no effect, we plan on mobilising a real strike together with the unions. We have to maintain pressure.’