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  • Writer's pictureMaria Flori

UMCG & PhD Students back in the courtroom over labor dispute

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

UMCG © Maria Flori

The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal from the University Medical Center of Groningen (UMCG) over a labor dispute with scholarship PhD students. The UMCG hopes for a reversal of a lower court's latest ruling in favor of the PhDs.

In 2016 a scholarship PhD experiment was introduced by the government, with two Universities taking part in it, one of which was the UMCG. After complaints and conflicts relating to labor work -coming from the PhD's- the controversy was referred to court, with the long-running question whether they are students or employees.

Scholarship PhDs argued that it was unfair that they weren't considered employees, because they had the same amount of work and similar working hours with PhDs, who were getting higher salaries, more paid holiday and pension.

"The case is pending for 4 years now"

‘’The Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court was right to rule in their favor’’, says Anneke Kastelein, chairwoman of the PhD Network in the Netherlands (PNN).

She wasn’t surprised by the UMCG’s decision to appeal, as she fully grasps the financial consequences that the ruling will have.

While the Minister of Education has already announced that the experiment will come to an end as of August 31st 2024. ‘‘The case is pending for 4 years now and I feel sorry for those PhD’s who would have to wait another year until they get closure’’, Mrs. Kastelein says.

‘’The hospital hopes that the procedure before the Supreme Court will contribute to clarity for the UMCG and the group of candidates. A difficult situation has arisen for both of them that the UMCG would like to see resolved’’, Joost Wessel said in a written statement.

The Groninger, also, approached UMCG lawyer Samir Lacevic for a response, but he said that he was not permitted to comment.

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