Report of the Supervisory Board
In the light of recent political and economic developments around the world, Free Press Unlimited’s work has only gained in urgency and importance. The Executive Board has to safely steer the organisation through the many challenges on its path – without undermining the organisation’s own credibility.
The Supervisory Board is fully confident of the directors’ ability to handle this task. Based on a number of performance interviews with the members of the Executive Board in 2016, the Supervisory Board concluded that they delivered an excellent performance over the past year. They have a clear view of how Free Press Unlimited should function and are already thinking about how to make the organisation future-proof in financial terms in the period after 2020 – even though a large share of the organisation’s budget for the next few years has already been secured. The Supervisory Board applauds these efforts.
In 2016, the Supervisory Board played a mediating role in a labour dispute within Free Press Unlimited’s organisation. The directors had informed the Board of this labour dispute and the ensuing dismissal in a timely manner. The Supervisory Board supported the Executive Board’s decision. For legal reasons, the Executive Board could only share limited information about the matter with the workforce. This created some turmoil within the organisation and led to the submission of various informal complaints to Free Press Unlimited’s confidential committee. There was such a sharp increase in the number of complaints coming in that the confidential committee felt obliged to notify the Supervisory Board.
Immediately after the labour dispute had been settled, the Executive Board initiated a dialogue with the entire staff and offered to engage the services of an outside party that could investigate which factors had led to this unrest. The Supervisory Board advised the Executive Board in this process and offered moral support. While things ultimately quieted down again, the tensions had weighed heavily on both the employees and the members of the Executive Board. In the view of the Supervisory Board, the parties’ willingness to resolve these issues together is to be commended. The Supervisory Board will be monitoring the actions and recommendations that came out of the third-party investigation.
In 2016, Free Press Unlimited had been working for over seven years with a number of partners within the same audit firm. We believed the time had come to make a new inventory of our options – a task that we delegated to the Financial Audit Committee. The Committee invited four auditors, including our existing partner, to submit a quotation on the basis of a programme of requirements. After holding interviews with each of the selected audit firms, the Committee decided to continue our collaboration with our current auditor. It personally informed the other candidates of this decision, giving a clear explanation of its reasons.
The Supervisory Board convened four times in 2016 – one meeting more than originally scheduled in connection with the aforementioned unrest within the organisation. One meeting was devoted to the Annual Report and the financial accounts; another to the budget for 2017; and a third meeting focussed on a variety of subjects, including the organisation’s strategy. The Financial Audit Committee convened twice in 2016, for its regular meetings about the budget and the financial accounts, as well as holding two separate meetings for the orientation on and re-selection of an external auditor.
The members of the Supervisory Board are appointed for a term of four years. In principle, this term can be extended a maximum of three times. In 2016, the Supervisory Board was made up of the following members:
- Joop Daalmeijer (Chair), second term. Ancillary positions: Media adviser to the Council for Culture/chairman of the Dutch press award ‘De Tegel’, Member of the Executive Board of De Buren in Brussels.
- Marietje Schaake (Vice Chair), second term, no ancillary positions.
- Teus Eenkhoorn (Member, Chair of the Financial Audit Committee), second term, no ancillary positions.
- Corine de Vries (Member), second term, no ancillary positions.
- Henk Boer (Member, member of the Financial Audit Committee), first term, no ancillary positions.
- Ronald Gijsbertsen (Member), first term, no ancillary positions.
- Mark Fuller (Member), first term, no ancillary positions.
Chair of the Supervisory Board of Free Press Unlimited