Investigations into workplace safety at Pakhuis de Zwijger debate center in Amsterdam
There will be an investigation into safety in the workplace at the Pakhuis de Zwijger debate center in Amsterdam. The management team decided to temporarily resign for this investigation, reported the supervisory board of the Pakhuis de Zwijger foundation on Saturday in response to an article in Het Parool about the alleged culture of fear at the center.
"The management team has decided to step down until further notice in order to create space for this investigation and to give all staff members of Pakhuis de Zwijger the opportunity to continue their good work unencumbered during this period," the supervisory board's statement on the center's website stated.
Het Parool spent a few months researching the corporate culture at Pakhuis de Zwijger. Of the 33 former employees who contributed to the publication, 28 of them confirmed regular outbursts of anger from the director Egbert Fransen. 18 former employees spoke of a culture of fear. According to the newspaper, Hester Tiggeloven, deputy director and wife of Fransen, was the internal confidant until more than two years ago, so that employees had the feeling that they could not turn to her with their complaints.
Together with a large number of partners, the Pakhuis de Zwijger Foundation organizes around 600 activities each year on topical social issues. About 25 employees are involved in programming and technology, plus dozens of catering staff. Maurits Groen, chairman of the supervisory board, is currently in charge.
"I'm really surprised. I've been coming to the Pakhuis for years, and I also know a lot of the people who walk around there. I never heard about the incidents reported by Het Parool," Groen said. The Supervisory Board wants the investigation to be conducted by an external party. Groen explained "This is to avoid any appearance of dependency and to make it acceptable to everyone." According to him, the two-member board itself has offered to temporarily step down during the investigation. "This gives employees the opportunity to tell their story to investigators," he claimed.
Pakhuis De Zwijger receives an annual subsidy from the city of Amsterdam. Councilwoman Touria Meliani (Arts and Culture) said she was shocked by the reports in Het Parool and called the management's resignation "a good step for now."
"This article unfortunately shows once again that the cultural sector has a big responsibility to really take action to create a safe working environment. It is further confirmation to me as a city councilor that we absolutely need to pay more attention to this in the new policy," the alderman said in a comment. "Everyone has a right to a safe working environment with a good atmosphere and room for disagreement.”
Reporting by ANP