Newsletter from U4U : October 2016 (2) – n°50
For years the lack of places has been blatantly obvious, causing problems for our colleagues while pressure at work has been growing.
Let's remember the facts: today, despite a slight improvement, there is still a shortage of 440 places in crèches and 350 places in after-school centres (ASC). In this context, the management of priorities is not always rational. There are similar problems with the European schools, which we will come back to later.
This situation is not acceptable at a time when the institution talks about its policy of "well-being" at work. Indeed, the leading element of well-being consists of working conditions and how our children are cared for.
We must bring together all the relevant actors to explore new solutions so that every child can be guaranteed a place. These solutions include the following:
· The Commission must maintain the existing interinstitutional crèches and make agreements with quality private crèches, while strengthening the monitoring of these structures;
· The PALM building, once refurbished, must be used to host childcare facilities (crèches, JE (kindergarten) and/or ASC);
· The attendance capacity in the after-school centres (ASC) of the European schools must be increased;
· The attendance capacity in ASCs in the central sites must also be increased by using part of the Commission's existing buildings as well as those of Parliament and the Committees.
· Efficient planning tools must be introduced to meet real needs in time.
In addition, we must work to achieve common use at interinstitutional level of crèches and child care facilities: at present, the children of parents working at the Commission cannot be admitted to the crèches of Parliament and the Council, although the reverse is possible. What’s more, the premises of the after-school centres are only situated in the Commission buildings, despite the fact that these centres are used by children of staff from all institutions.
Finally, U4U is asking the DG HR for a meeting with all the actors involved – parents’ association, staff committees and administrations – to study these proposals.
Although the negotiations on the new policy for the Commission's contract agents (at headquarters, representations, delegations and offices) are on the verge of completion, the question of internal competitions for contract agents under the new article 82.7 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants (CEOS) is thankfully making quicker progress - at least at the Commission (with varying results), and more recently at the EEAS. The negotiations on the next internal competition at the EEAS help us to realise at what point the division of the AIPNs between "institutions" leads to the fragmentation of the populations of contract agents resulting in widely unequal systems.
Indeed, three salient points remain the subject of disagreements between U4U and the administration.
· The number of successful candidates is very low and does not take sufficient account of the population of officials who can also enter this competition.
· The period of service required for eligibility - 42 months - excludes some CAs from entering a single competition, which is not fair. In addition, the reasons for which eligibility has been extended by six months beyond the limits stipulated in the Staff Regulations are unclear.
· Finally, it appears that GF IV contract agents can only apply for AST posts, which gives them the status of officials while at the same time downgrading them. This ignores the policy of using the talent base much vaunted by the Commission, of which Mrs Mogherini is the first Vice-President. The same competition at the Commission allows FG IV contract agents to enter an internal competition for AD6: why this double standard?
On all these points, U4U is committed within the Near you inter-union group to defending the future of the EEAS.
The referendum that saw 52% of British voters demand that the United Kingdom leave the European Union has created an unprecedented political situation in British political life. The country's political class has taken some time to realise the scale of the change and to prepare an initial position. The recent statements of the new Prime Minister, Mrs May, suggest that the government will choose to take the "hard Brexit" route.
Nothing could be less sure, but this situation of great uncertainty quite clearly affects all the actors who must tackle the thorny issue of the future of our British colleagues in the institutions. For U4U, the starting point is precisely that this a matter of "British colleagues", of whom there are around 2,000 in all the institutions, who were properly recruited into the European Civil Service in accordance with the provisions in force. Consequently, even in the face of an event as exceptional as BREXIT, it is unthinkable to invent and apply one-off rules that would not only harm the legitimate expectations of these colleagues but also profoundly weaken the European Civil Service.
To put it simply, this means that all of the British colleagues recruited in the usual way as officials, temporary agents, contract agents or END, must be allowed to continue to work and be paid normally until they reach retirement age or the end of their contracts. They must be allowed to benefit from the JSIS provisions in force, without exception. Finally, as pensioners, they must continue to benefit, without any changes, from the pension system currently in force for all retirees from the institutions, whatever their nationality. In fact, article 28 of the Staff Regulations requires only that at the time of recruitment, every employee is a national of one of the EU Member States, which is obviously the case for British colleagues recruited before BREXIT.
U4U believes that the social dialogue negotiations on the status of British colleagues must start as soon as article 50 of the Treaty is triggered by Mrs May's government in the spring of 2017. It is indeed crucial to put an end to the present political uncertainty and clarify the rights and obligations of our British colleagues as quickly as possible.
U4U presents a list to the Parliament's Staff Committee and stands for:
· a strong civil service working for an ambitious European structure and a Parliament that listens to its citizens
· a human resources management that maintains motivation and rewards commitment, competence and loyalty, and that is based on listening to staff
· a revitalising social dialogue based on constructive proposals and a trade union and European citizen-based approach
· a constructive Staff Committee, working with a good team spirit and in coordination with the ATA
· solidarity and respect for the rights of all categories of staff: respecting staff and recognising their talents, with a significant reduction in inequalities, disparities and insecurity
· careers for all, seeing mobility from the dual perspective of the best interest both of colleagues and of the institution, not forgetting the interinstitutional aspect of careers
· more transparency, rigour and justice in the promotion process, for a certification procedure that provides real chances of promotion
· greater recognition of qualifications upon hiring, re-evaluation of the grading in accordance with skills, opening access to AD competitions and opening internal competitions to all, including CAs and ATs
· the creation of an interinstitutional Security Office offering permanent contracts to its employees
· negotiated and fair management of working time for interpreters.
U4U reacted immediately to the news of the appointment of Mr Barroso to Goldman-Sachs by writing a letter to President Juncker. We reinforced our message when the Kroes affair became known and, finally, we brought up this issue in our email to the President of the Commission before his State of the Union speech in order to draw his attention to the changes required in European policies and to the situation of the European Civil Service.
We also responded to the collective of institution employees, who had started a petition, when they asked us to help them hand over the 153,000 signatures they had collected. On Wednesday 12 October, a delegation including retirees, members of the collective and representatives of some trade unions (U4U, R&D, US) handed this petition to the Presidents of the three main institutions. For the Commission, we were received by the Secretary General, for the Council, by a member of the Protocol and, for Parliament, by President Shulz himself. The latter proposed some ideas to strengthen the Commission's Code of Ethics and said that the Parliament's Petitions Committee was ready to examine the petition.
The case is not closed: as well as the probable hearing of the PETI committee, it remains to be seen what report will be issued by the Ethics Committee and, above all, what the Commission will do about it. The action therefore continues.
In the U4U delegation we see: P. Grosjean, V. Juan-Linares, J.-P. Soyer. #Ethics4EU
According to the FAO, 1.3 billion tonnes of edible products are thrown away every year. In other words, 30% of what we produce ends up at the rubbish dump, along with the cost that it has for the environment.
In their own way and on their own scale, the Commission's canteens in Brussels also contribute to this waste. To guarantee us a degree of choice, the specifications imposed on the concessionaires require a variety of dishes, diversity of products and their availability over the entire lunch period. Of course, more will be prepared than is needed. If you add to this the unpredictable nature of canteen attendance due to the weather or professional reasons, this inevitably leads to a supply of food that is much greater than demand, as in spite of these risks our canteens are committed to offering this selection until they close. Similar constraints apply to the cafeterias, which are required to offer snacks and light meals over a longer period of time.
Food hygiene rules stipulate the disposal of unsold processed products (cold or hot meals) or fresh products that have been unwrapped (salads, bread, sliced fruits and cheese, etc.).
While such wastage has a significant cost for the concessionaire, we can logically assume that the money lost in discarded products is not invested in the quality of the products purchased. A genuinely ecological concern on our part consists of questioning the need to have such a broad range of dishes available every day. We might also question the quality of the products on offer and their ecological footprint: are they fresh and in season, are they products that are sourced locally and with respect for the environment, processed and cooked using recipes that guarantee a balanced diet, etc.?
VP Georgieva did not include canteens in her Fit@Work programme. However, taking a break in a welcoming space and eating with a clear conscience about what we are offering our bodies and our health, and about the way in which we respect our environment, all contribute to well-being at work. In the eyes of U4U, it is important to start discussions and involve experts who are able to rethink the provision of meals at the Commission in order to unite environmental awareness and well-being. U4U can only urge the Commission to move in this direction, because savings in terms of negative externalities for the environment and healthcare should also be sought in the manner in which we feed ourselves and in our consumer behaviour.
INVITATION TO A DEBATE
On 27 OCTOBER 2016 at 8 pm
with M. Michele Gazzola,
Multilingualism in the European Union after Brexit
U4U is an active union, working on behalf of colleagues through its workplace meetings, not only in Brussels, and present in negotiations with the administration. We have an informative and up-to-date website, we publish regular newsletters, systematically translated into English, we defend you individually before the administration and before the Civil Service Tribunal.
All of that comes at a cost. Help us to meet it.
Not yet a member of U4U? Join us as we need your participation.
Already a member? Upgrade from our subscription membership of €15 per year to a support membership of €60 per year.
We need your financial support. Help us to defend you, to propose more acceptable staff management policies and to challenge whatever hits us hard.
To join and/or change to a support membership, use this form on our website or contact us (list of contacts below).
|U4U at your service|
Union for Unity AISBL, 23 rue du Cardinal Bruxelles
éditeur responsable: Georges Vlandas
équipe de rédaction : Bertrand Soret, Georges Spyrou, Olivier Brunet, Philippe Kéraudren, Victor Juan Linares, Fabrice Andreone, Sylvie Vlandas, Kim Slama, Gérard Hanney, Sazan Pakalin, Agim Islamaj, Yves Dumont, Stéphane André, J.-P. Soyer