De Ware Opening 2021

Two years after "De Ware Opening van het Academisch Jaar" in Leiden, where WOinActie demanded Minister of OCW Ingrid van Engelshoven to resign, De Ware Opening came to Utrecht with "De Afrekening". This time, due to the efforts of Casual Leiden, 0.7 and the case of Van Ree vs Leiden University, fixed term contracts formed a prominent issue on the agenda.

Remco Breuker opened the ceremony and insisted that the demand of WOinActie for adequate funding of higher education have since their actions started been backed up by further evidence supplied by multiple institutions, including the labour inspection and the report of PWC.

The ceremony proceeded with a ranking of shame. PromovendiNetwerkNederland (PNN) gave the award for "beurspromovendi" to Groningen, though statistics are lacking and we don't know which university does worst.

Casual Leiden argued that the award for most ruthless casualizing employer should go to all universities, with a special mention of Utrecht University which hires 90% of docenten on fixed term contracts and the absolute winner Technical University Eindhoven with 53% on temporary contracts, including PhDs 75%.

The representative of the Student Union (LSVB) was dressed as a plucked chicken and handed out the award for most massive education to Wageningen University. The banner reads "you cannot pluck from a plucked chicken - stop the loan system!! #NietMijnSchuld."

The TU Delft was shamed for having fewest female Professors and Maastricht for having the most expensive CvB (Utrecht has the most expensive administrator).

The best speech came from 0.7 who expressed anger and exasperation that no-one is being held accountable for mishandling misconduct, for bogus temporary contracts, for burnouts. They offered the participation award to the academic community, because "retweeting is not enough". A powerful call to tenured staff to support and care for precarious colleagues, to speak out during meetings - not afterwards in private - to organize and to join activist collectives.
Watch a video of their speech here:

While the crowd waited for the Minister to arrive, Sai Englert of Casual Leiden took the stage. Speaking in the name of Casual Academy - a network of activist groups at different universities - and 0.7, he said the CAO referred an end to "unnecessary" fixed term contracts to the "lokaal overleg" - negotiations between local union branches and CvBs. While skeptical, they want to give CvBs an opportunity to demonstrate their sincere intentions and show concrete change regarding three demands : end casualization, end structural overwork and ensure a safe working environment. CvBs have until December 20 to respond. If not, there will be further actions.

When the Minister finally arrived, 0.7 left. Casual Leiden chanted and beat the drum. Rens Bod offered an alternative budget plan of 1.1 billion euros extra. Demissionary Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven explained that she had needed her entire term to justify a raise in expenses (longer than our peer review, commented Breuker) but that she now had a plan ready for the subsequent government. "Too late for regrets!" was heard in the audience.