Agnes Jongerius, President of Trade Union Confederation FNV:
"Taking two steps back"
As a 22-year old student, Agnes Jongerius negotiated the budget of her faculty with the President of the Executive Board. She developed a taste for ‘the picket line’ and her ambition to become a history teacher vanished into thin air. Since 2005, she has lead Trade Union Confederation FNV.
“By taking a scientific orientated programme at secondary school, I aimed to keep as many irons as possible in the fire. I had a fantastic history teacher, who inspired me to follow in his footsteps. During my study in the early 1980s, however, I got involved in representative activities. As a student member of the faculty board, I discussed the budget of our faculty with university president Jan Veldhuis. The then Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Henk Bodewitz, trusted me to be a capable negotiator.”
A little megalomaniac
“Also as member of the University Council I was treated as a serious partner. We actively concerned ourselves with various issues, ranging from international policy to staff and finances. Perhaps a little megalomaniac, but it worked and we did not fall victim to making rash or irresponsible decisions. I had the opportunity to get to know more about the hidden side of the university. My close association with scientists and managers means that I lost my fear of authority figures.”
“Even before graduating in social-economic history and completing my final paper dealing with migration in the Netherlands I had already applied for a job with FNV. Now that I am president of this trade union confederation, I occasionally run into representatives of Utrecht University, although not often enough by far. I think Utrecht researchers should make a more ostentatious contribution to the often heated public debate. There is a great need for reflection by scientists, for taking two steps back!”