‘De Waal negligent in role as chair of development group's supervisory board'

3 September 2010

‘De Waal negligent in role as chair of development group's supervisory board'

Employees of the state-subsidised aid organisation the SNV are up in arms against the extraordinarily high salaries paid to the group's management, and have condemned the group's supervisory board's defence of the salaries. According to SP Member of Parliament and development spokesman Ewout Irrgang, the board, under the chairmanship of former trade union leader Lodewijk de Waal, has been negligent in allowing the increases to go ahead.

“It's encouraging that the employees themselves are in revolt against this,” says Irrgang. “That alone should be reason enough to bring the management to book.” In Irrgang's view, “that the SNV lacks the ability to put its own house in order is demonstrated by the fact that the employees were obliged to say what De Waal should actually have been telling the management. And this despite the fact that he has in the past been the first to speak out against excessive salaries."

Employees complaints were contained in internal documents which came into the possession of national daily De Volkskrant. They drew attention to the damage to the image of the SNV which the salaries issue would inflict. “It looks as if the top management have no concept of the current political situation or of public opinion in the Netherlands in relation to development organisations and to the SNV,” one of the employees says. “I refuse to see the SNV go down the tubes in this way."

In May Irrgang called into question the salary of €160,000 ($205,000/£133,000) paid to SNV chief Dirk Elsen. He received a sympathetic response from Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who agreed that such a salary was “not fitting for an organisation involved in the fight against poverty and which receives the great majority of its income from public funds”. The minister added that he would be in favour of a punitive reduction in the subsidy paid to SNV. In De Waal's view, however, the salary is “reasonable”. Irrgang has once again asked Verhagen for his reaction to the increases.

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