The Gelderland King’s Commissioner John Berends and a number of his close associates are guilty of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. De Gelderlander writes this based on conversations with anonymous officials and other involved parties. The newspaper also had access to the results of an employee survey, which confirmed the image of a culture of fear.
Nine of the thirteen closest colleagues of CDA member Berends – his ‘cabinet’ – say that they have been confronted with verbally inappropriate behavior. Some indicate that physical boundaries have also been crossed and that bullying has occurred.
There is talk of outbursts of anger, swearing and slamming doors. There has been a lot of turnover in the team in recent years, in favor of people who can get along with Berends. These would mainly be old acquaintances of his from the time when he was mayor of Apeldoorn. He left there in 2019 to become the king’s commissioner.
Provincial officials now accuse him of being a poor listener, barely knowing his pieces and not being interested in the people he has to work with. Berends would follow his own course and sometimes surprise his employees with statements or decisions.
Vision and persuasiveness
De Gelderlander writes that the unrest has increased further because Berends wants more influence over civil servants. These now fall under their own department heads, who are in turn managed by the director of the organization at the provincial government office.
But the CVDK wants the civil servants to fall directly under him and report directly to him. The works council is concerned about this: it fears that there will no longer be room for criticism and has issued negative advice about the plan.
Berends himself contradicts that there is a culture of fear. “I am a director with vision and persuasiveness and I convey that. If that would have come across differently, that was never my intention,” he told the newspaper.