Newsletter from U4U : March 2018 – n°61
The European Citizen Platform, created a year ago by citizen’s groups, including U4U, is ready to welcome all European citizens on
Sunday 25 March 2018 at 14.00 p.m., place du Luxembourg in Ixelles,
for a large rally celebrating the 61st anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Let’s join forces to put the citizen back at the heart of European integration!
Against a background of heightened social crisis, the rise of Euroscepticism has been evident in recent elections in various EU Member States, at a time when the European Union needs, more than ever, to address our common challenges. A stimulus is needed to strengthen the European democratic framework. It must be part of a citizen-based approach so that the 510 million European citizens can get “their Europe” back.
In fact, the future of Europe cannot be dictated by its leaders alone. It can only be decided by a democratic debate.
We would like to see our citizens rally to ensure that their voice is heard in the Europe of tomorrow. This rally starts today!
Say yes to Europe!
European Commission denies 9.8 million workers EU legal minimum standards on information and consultation rights
The Commission refuses to plug a gap in EU legislation that excludes workers in central government administrations from the EU right to information and consultation. In an unprecedented decision, the Commission has refused to forward a social partner agreement to the EU Council, preempting the possibility for the Council to publicly state its position.
Why should public administration workers not enjoy the same EU legal protection for information and consultation rights as other workers? This is also a very bad signal given to EU Staff in all EU Institutions.
U4U reaffirms its commitment to a meaningful social dialogue, as described in the European Pillar of Social Rights : “Workers or their representatives have the right to be informed and consulted in good time on matters relevant to them”.
An assessment of the last promotion exercise (2017) has just been completed. The key features are as follows:
At all stages, until the promotion committee meets, staff and their representatives have the option of expressing a different opinion from that of management, and even, sometimes, winning their case.
A final important point is that the context in which this exercise took place is positive. This reflects the excellent results achieved by staff representatives over the years: every year, 11,000 colleagues going up a grade can be added to the 5,000 promoted, and these 16,000 colleagues (almost half of all staff), like the other half, also benefit from the positive effects of the method – which combines price rises and salary increases in the Member States – which boosts the effects of the promotions and grade changes. In the following year, virtually all of the remaining 16,000 colleagues will be in the same position.
Of course, we are still experiencing some problems.
As we can see, the assessment is generally very positive, and staff representatives would be wrong not to recognise this, as the above is in large part the result of their actions.
To find out more about the appraisal/promotion exercise, please take a look at our updated guide in FR and EN on the U4U website!
We should point out the excellent progress with the consultations on the article 51 GIP and the constructive spirit in which the discussions were held.
A considerable number of U4U’s proposals were adopted, representing some significant advances:
That is why our organisation is not asking for a political consultation. However, a new technical consultation to better reflect the changes made following the last technical consultation meeting could help to improve the consensus on this GIP.
Furthermore, during the technical consultation, it was agreed in principle that after three years of this GIP being implemented there would be an analysis enabling all parties to assess the soundness of its provisions, especially in regard to:
It was also agreed that an annual report on cases of professional incompetence will be submitted to the Joint Committee, which will be an opportunity to see if there has been any misconduct.
We believe these two major principles of monitoring and appraisal to be key to confirming the merits of the article 51 procedure as described in the GIP and, if necessary, to considering making improvements.
Finally, as we mentioned during the consultations on the article 43 appraisal GIP, we still believe it would be wise, in view of the results of the initial results of the analysis of the implementation of article 51, for cases of incompetence to be initiated after a negative appraisal in not just one of the three main areas of appraisal – behaviour, competence, efficiency – but two of these areas. It is in fact possible, following a transfer for example, to have an incompetence comment in the "competence” section of the appraisal report, while at the same time having a positive appraisal in the “behaviour” section and an acknowledgement of significant results in the “efficiency” section. Our proposal would make it possible to initiate preventive actions on the basis of an incompetence noted in one area. Article 51 would only be applied after identifying two incompetencies and noting the failure of preventive measures already implemented.
For further information...
The Contract Agent” category was first included in the 2004 Staff Regulations. There were two objectives: to acquire extra staff at lower cost, while guaranteeing them access to the European Civil Service Staff Regulations, and, for contract staff on permanent contracts, to offer the semblance of a career. Very soon, the number of contract staff began to grow, although their status proved to be unsuitable over time, for both the services and the staff. With regard to contract staff on fixed-term contracts, who at that time could not be employed for more than 3 years, the services themselves believed that this turnover represented the greatest professional risk for them, as they were obliged to part with a qualified staff member who had only just been fully trained. The contract staff themselves found their careers to be insufficiently motivating: the conditions for awarding contracts – very short-term contracts – were often unable to meet their expectations.
The services were slow to recognise this reality. The contract staff were motivated to form their own professional body – the Contract Agents’ Collective – gradually supported by a growing number of unions. This realisation and the rallying of the staff meant that the 2014 reform led to the awarding of fixed-term contracts for up to 6 years the creation of internal competitions, and mobility options. The institution recognised the important role of contract staff for the smooth operation of the services and, as a result, their entitlement to a career and mobility. This positive development was compromised by being implemented too slowly. Four years after the introduction of the new Staff Regulations, the social dialogue on this subject is still ongoing. Also, there is still an incompatibility between the Staff Regulations and the reality of staff employment.
U4U wants to continue to improve the conditions of contract staff within the framework of the Staff Regulations. Our union has some ambitious proposals to make in regard to a future opening of the Staff Regulations. However, U4U does not want to request that the Regulations be opened in the current context of tight budgets and social decline. Our organisation is sure that such a reopening at this time would be disadvantageous for all staff, including those on contracts.
See our proposals...
Almost 1,000 colleagues work in the Representation Offices in the 28 EU countries. They often feel isolated, and even abandoned, compared to the main locations of the institutions. They experience problems in particular with their careers, mobility, their children’s schooling, housing and sickness insurance.
U4U has been meeting these colleagues for a number of years and has prepared a set of proposals (EN & FR) with them that it wants to present to the administration and, for action, to the other trade unions.
For further information...
Mr Secretary General,
You recently decided, unilaterally, to implement your compulsory mobility policy for AST/AST SC staff.
This policy was imposed and implemented by the administration, without consulting the staff committee or staff representatives.
The mobility of AST/AST SC grades to Parliament was made compulsory without considering what was involved, the timescale or the conditions. The occupations/posts exempted from mobility are often unknown.
A decision like this, however, requires comprehensive negotiations with the Staff Committee. Imposing it without discussion or measures to confirm its validity (career development, distribution of good practices/knowledge/expertise within the institution) and neutralising its collateral effects (discontinuity of the services, poor work/life balance) is not based on effective and motivating human resources management to provide a quality public service.
While officials are serving their administration, that should not be on just any terms. It is not an emergency, a crisis situation, a professional need or the interests of the service that drives the need for the compulsory mobility of AST/AST SC staff, especially on the eve of the 2019 elections. The continuity of the services, on the other hand, is threatened with a lack of organisation and motivation amongst its officials and agents.
The Staff Regulations do indeed refer to the interests of the service as a pressing ground for periodic mobility, although not necessarily for all officials and agents. The procedures are set by the Appointing Authority after advice from the Staff Committee. Once again, however, the Staff Committee must be genuinely consulted and not informed at the last moment in a merely token fashion, and its recommendations ignored.
For many colleagues, compulsory mobility would require them to move to another country, with considerable consequences for their families, without interim support, although expatriation has never been the subject of a specific clause in their contract or job description. This is a violation of legitimate expectations.
Just a few years from retirement, would you seriously want to move an AST from a service where he/she is working well to a service where he/she would have to start from scratch, in the knowledge that it takes about a year to adapt and three years to become fully operational? What do the services have to gain from these forced mobilities, unsupported and unpleasant experiences that they are? If you don’t care about the human cost, what about the public purse?
Mobility must be an opportunity, encouraged by lifelong training and intelligent career management. It would be best for it to remain voluntary and supported by a humane, effective and motivating human resources policy.
Mr Secretary General, come and sit at the negotiating table with staff representatives. Let us, together, find a way to make mobility an attractive part of a career that supports the missions of the European Parliament.
On 13 October 2017, the General Meeting of European Parliament staff brought together the interpreters, translators and security officers whose working conditions have been mismanaged by the administration of the European Parliament.
During the GM, U4U denounced the annual leave deductions that the administration had unfairly imposed on security officers taking special leave (as stipulated by the Staff Regulations – annex V, section 2, art.6).
However, the internal regulations of the DG SAFE, chapter 8.2, §5 (annex 4) are clear:
"For prevention and surveillance agents, the number of hours deducted for one day of leave shall be based on the number of hours prescribed for a given job and published by the planning service. If this information has not yet been released, the hours to be deducted shall be calculated on the basis of the normal work schedule. Special leave days shall be deducted on the basis of the normal work schedule."
As a result of an Art. 90 appeal lodged by a U4U member, the European Parliament acknowledge its mistaken interpretation and credited the agent with the wrongly deducted hours.
This incorrect practice has been wrongly applied by the administration since the creation of the DG SAFE. U4U is asking the European Parliament to review the annual leave deductions for agents taking special leave during the years since this Directorate-General was formed.
U4U relies on the spirit and the principles referred to by the European Union Tribunal in it recent judgement (in February) in the Zink case seeking a retroactive review of this practice, which has deprived a number of colleagues of part of their annual leave.
U4U is asking the administration to restore to the agents penalised by this incorrect practice the hours of leave recovered by the administration at their expense.
One Brusseleir, one vote !
#1bru1Vote Your voice counts too !
Whatever your nationality and your language – non-Belgian or Belgian –
Please sign this petition and join our non-partisan movement open to all !
Today 1 in 3 Brussels-Capital adult residents – or 310.000 people – are denied the right to vote, and are prevented from taking an active political role, because they are non-Belgian. Yet they are Brussels residents like everyone else—who live, love, work, study, pay taxes and contribute in so many ways to make Brussels-Capital a better home for all.
See also : Register for voting in the next local elections in Belgium...
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 €25 per year to a support membership of €84 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, Victor Juan Linares, Fabrice Andreone, Sylvie Vlandas, Kim Slama, Christian Tritten, Gérard Hanney, Sazan Pakalin, Agim Islamaj, Yves Dumont, Stéphane André, Ivan Cusi Leal, Georges Divaris, J.-P. Soyer