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The Fusion for Energy Joint Undertaking (F4E) is based in Barcelona (Spain). The ITER project is based at Cadarache (France).

Contact persons : Paul Wouters – Coordinator, Gerard Gomez Escudero, Alejandro Sampedro Dura and Stavros Chatzipanagiotou – Vice-President of U4U for General Affairs and Regulatory Agencies.

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Reorganisation at Fusion for Energy (F4E) at Barcelona:

U4U approached the director – Marc Lachaise – to promote social dialogue at local level. The necessary more active role of the Commission and the Administrative Board cannot replace the social dialogue within the Agency itself, as demanded by the three unions. U4U reminded the Director of this Agency of this :

Dear Marc,

First of all, we would like to thank you for the meeting of 1 March 2024 with you and the European Commission and the discussion on the new organizational structure.

The proposed organigramme represents a real revolution in relation to the current one. It will be a challenge to implement it and ensure that staff understand and share its intended benefits. We support the change in the organization to make it fit to deliver the contributions to ITER and promote the development of fusion in Europe. However, we are convinced that such change cannot be successful without the involvement of staff and, in this context, a reinforced social dialogue with the staff representatives to address concerns is crucial for its success. In addition, this important change will have an impact on the performance during the implementation period that may not be recovered with extra effort from staff. Stakeholders must be aware of it and not increase the already high pressure on staff.

We would like to bring into your consideration a number of concerns that have been raised by our members concern in relation to the proposed reorganization that in our view necessitate to be part of the upcoming social dialogue.

Rationale and Expected Benefits

The real drivers of the reorganization are still not clear to the minds of many colleagues, in particular the expected benefits of this new structure in terms of delivering better the European obligations to ITER. We believe that management should engage in a substantial effort of explanation and discussion on this point. How is this reorganization linked to the drive for more integration with IO? Is it conceived to serve this integration or are these two parallel efforts?

Content – Mission statements

While a skeleton structure has been presented to staff, the detailed content of the different units and their internal structure remains unknown, giving rise to a lot of speculation on the future of many activities as well as of the staff who are involved on their implementation today. It is necessary to undertake a detailed analysis of the current activities and ensure they are well distributed in the new structure, and subsequently present a detailed mission statement for all the different units.

Vision and Strategic objectives

An F4E Vision document was presented and adopted by the Governing Board in December 2023. It represents the strategic vision for the organization that had been missing and that the staff had been asking for in all the different staff engagements surveys and the “expression directe” exercise. Any organizational structure is a clear expression of a policy, and in this context, we fail to see how the proposed structure reflects all the points in the agreed vision. To illustrate a few examples, we fail to see how the proposed structure will “Prepare the transition from research to industry and the creation of a competitive European fusion industry (objective 3)”. The previous group on market intelligence and analysis has now disappeared and it is very doubtful whether appropriate structure and resources will be earmarked to this ambitious objective. Even if it happens inside the newly created “Procurement” and “Contracts” units, they will become secondary activities alongside the main priority linked to contract management and procurement of various hundreds of million euros. It is of capital importance that the industrial policy activities are housed in a separate entity well visible by the external stakeholders. In the same vein, it is difficult to identify where the activities in favour of the “Development of fusion talent and knowledge base for Europe (Objective 2)” will take place apart from the support inside the new Engineering and “Projects” departments. Finally, in relation to the successful BA Projects (Objectives 1 b,c and d), the ambitions related to their development and implementation of JT-60SA, TBM, IFMIF, DEMO and DONES do not correspond with the downsizing of the BA department to one Unit.

Size and purpose of units

The discussion on the size of the different units has been on the table since the beginning of the reorganization. It would seem that the Commission has been insisting to reduce the number of small units setting artificial minimum numbers of staff necessary for a structure to be a unit. This seems to come from internal Commission Guidelines which do not apply to agencies and to F4E, but seem to have become one of the guiding principles of the reorganization. In this context, different activities are being artificially put together to create larger units, leaving aside common sense and efficiency. A unit should be constituted of a coherent set of activities and its nature must be able to be expressed with a few simple words, understood by all. This is actually the situation even in the Commission (and DGENER) where one can find units composed of 5-6 staff because the nature of their activities justifies it.

Levels of hierarchy

By creating bigger units putting together activities of different nature, one is obliged to created sub-structures inside them in order to be able to implement the distinct activities. This creates de facto additional levels of hierarchy putting at the top those with little or no specialist knowledge of the area of work. Leadership in F4E is not just about leading people – it is also about technical leadership, steering people in the right technical direction. The comparison with the Commission is a very unfortunate one. If F4E was just another Commission service (working under the same rules and practices), then its own existence and sense of purpose would be questioned – why did a separate organization was created if it is simply in the image of the Commission?

Management Positions

The uncertainty in relation to the future of the current managers and the procedure for the appointment of the new positions generates further uncertainty and risks paralyzing temporarily the organization. We cannot ask managers to continue working “as if” without knowing their future. What is foreseen for those managers that may be left without a job? How can we ensure that their expertise and experience continues to serve well the organization and they remain motivated to contribute? It would be a real shame to waste invaluable resources.

More than an organizational structure

The adoption of an organizational structure is just the beginning of a long road to making it functioning well. It is important to have clear mission statements, realistic objectives and expectations, as well as the appropriate level of resources dictated by our ambitions. All the engagement and psychosocial surveys, as well as the “expression directe” have been clear that F4E has worked with unrealistic objectives and is seriously understaffed. Furthermore, F4E needs flexibility in its operation and organization – this is in the very nature of the decision to establish a separate legal entity to provide the European contribution to ITER and not doing this challenging job in the Commission services.

“Chambre d’Ecoute”

As requested, we would insist on the setting up of a Chambre d’écoute composed of representatives of the administration and the social partners to deal with those colleagues for whom no satisfying solutions would have been found at the end of the implementation of the new organizational structure. The Chambre d’écoute should have full powers to make proposals to colleagues and take decisions.

In conclusion, while we support change in improving the capacity of F4E to deliver on its obligations and ultimately lead the European efforts in fusion, we considered it absolutely necessary to provide adequate responses to the above consideration. In this context, we would like to ask you to organize as soon as possible a discussion with the staff representatives on the above issues.


Georges Vlandas


Regulatory agencies and U4U

We are pleased to inform you that this month, Fusion for Energy (F4E) had host a delegation from the European Commission Union U4U, led by President Georges Vlandas and his coordinator, Annabelle Menendez. The visit was marked by significant achievements and positive discussions that we are excited to share with you.

Key highlights of the visit include:

1. Face-to-Face Meeting with the Director:
We engaged in a highly productive meeting with the Director, resulting in various common agreements. The Director has expressed agreement on the necessity to move forward with the next steps of “Direct and collective expression of the staff” and conduct Social Dialogues with different unions. These dialogues will focus on topics that are pertinent to the concerns of our staff.

2. Social Dialogue on Integration:
Collaborating with other unions, we submitted our final comments on the Bilateral agreement between F4E and IO (last Friday 26/01/2023). This step is crucial in shaping the integration discussion, and we are confident that our contributions will positively influence the outcome.

3. General Assembly of U4U Members:
We provided updates on the integration discussions during the General Assembly, where U4U members were informed about the latest developments. Additionally, we are advocating for the combination of the 10 days of working outside the place of employment with the exceptional 20 days, which can be requested to the Head of Department. This would be especially beneficial for colleagues whose family members choose to reside in another country. U4U also reported on the latest news at the European Commission and important moves that could impact the staff from EC HQ and Agencies.

During the General Assembly Alejandro Sampedro Durá was elected as new member of the U4U Core Team, we are more than happy to welcome him.

4. Private Meetings with F4E Staff:
Recognizing the importance of addressing individual concerns, we held private meetings with F4E staff to discuss work-related issues. This reflects our commitment to supporting each member of our U4U organization.

It is heartening to report that we have received the full support of our Director, and a strong collaboration is underway between U4U and our Director supported by his Head of administration. This collaboration is essential as we navigate through changes and collectively work towards the future of our organization.

One last word. We must avoid two pitfalls in our relations with the central services of the European Commission.

On the one hand, seeing the European Commission lose interest in the decentralised agencies and Joint Undertakings like F4E, as was the case until recently, when it is guarantor of respect for the treaties, the statute, budgetary execution, and the holding of social dialogue.

But on the other hand, we must prevent it from intervening at any time to micromanage our agency from Brussels, its restructuring while ignoring the necessary social dialogue which takes place first at the agency level.

The European Commission sets a framework, makes recommendations but respects the social partners at the decentralized level, especially when our F4E Director demonstrates an open-minded approach to conducting social dialogue.

In times of transformation, unity is paramount. Your continued dedication and involvement contribute significantly to the positive momentum we are experiencing.

Let us remain on the same plane and continue to foster a culture of collaboration and progress, toward the success of ITER and the future of Fusion.

Update on Social Dialogues and how to become a U4U Member

Dear Colleagues,

We hope this email finds you well. We wanted to share some important updates regarding our social dialogues.

Firstly, we want to express our gratitude for your active participation in the collective exercises, including Expression Direct, Root Cause Analysis, and Engagement Staff Survey. Your valuable input has paved the way for productive discussions, and we are excited to present the proposed structure for our upcoming Social Dialogues based on the outcomes:

  1. Organizational Structure and Reorganization: We aim to establish a general vision for F4E, enhance clarity in objectives, address workload and deadlines, improve transparency and trust, and eliminate silos within the organization through a departmental rebalance.
  2. Integration F4E-IO: The Social Dialogue will focus on discussing secondment agreements to IO to ensure a seamless integration process.
  3. Working Conditions and Career Development: We will address objectives, contract types, and internal mobility opportunities to foster personal and professional growth for all employees.
  4. Implementing EC Decisions: We’ll discuss policies and strategies to effectively implement external activities based on EC decisions.

In all these dialogues, our primary goal is to define F4E’s long-term vision and create a culture of transparency and trust within the organization.

Mark your calendars, as our next Social Dialogue with the administration is scheduled for September 6th, focusing on secondment agreements to IO. We are confident that your valuable insights will lead to meaningful discussions and fruitful outcomes. We hope to receive very soon from our F4E administration their proposal on secondment agreements to IO. Let us embrace the forthcoming discussions with enthusiasm and a shared commitment to progress, we all want that ITER, also called the golden grail of Energy, is a success!

Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the success of our recent Social Dialogue on employment contracts.  This recent social dialogue regarding the employment contracts affecting F4e short-term contracts. We are delighted to announce that through U4U collective efforts and constructive discussions, an agreement has been reached between the administration and the Unions.

This achievement marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to fostering positive and collaborative relationships. The successful social dialogue demonstrates our shared dedication to ensuring fair and equitable employment conditions for all members of our organization. By engaging in open, respectful, and solution-oriented discussions, we have proven that we can overcome challenges and find mutually beneficial solutions with F4e administration.

The willingness of the f4e administration to engage in meaningful dialogue has allowed us to address concerns, and reach compromises.

Once again, thank you for your unwavering support and commitment to making our workplace better and fostering positive change. We value each of our U4U member’s contribution and look forward to your continued involvement!

If you are not yet a U4U member, please follow this link to become a member (at F4E, U4U has more than 100 members!!! Thank You!!!):

Enjoy the well deserved holiday break, and we can’t wait to reconnect and resume our journey together in September.

Warm regards,

Paul and Gerard

U4U-F4E Team


Message from U4U to our New Director

Message to F4E Director 20/06/2023

Dear Mr. Lachaise,

First of all, we would like to congratulate you for your appointment as Director of Fusion for Energy and express our best wishes for success in this challenging position.

We are U4U, a citizen and European trade union that puts staff participation at the centre of its work. We aim to always act in a constructive spirit and in full transparency, keeping staff involved in our action. European construction is at the heart of our raison d’être and our action is clearly linked to the future of the European project. We are fighting for the unity of the staff and to create solidarity amongst all, no matter their category, profession, background or generation”. We defend staff through the defence of our institutions.

We are currently the professional association with the highest number of members in Fusion for Energy and we have been at the forefront of bringing social dialogue in the organisation.

Your appointment marks the beginning of a new era in F4E, and it is important that we can ensure the closure of the painful few years behind us in order to successfully turn the page and look to the future with optimism.

Continuous poor management from the top and ill-informed and belated governance decisions had seriously deteriorated the working environment at F4E, characterized by mistrust and unrealistic objectives, installing a blame culture and low morale amongst staff. In May 2021, a staff member Mario Gagliardi, a young Italian engineer took his own life denouncing the work pressure and unhealthy working environment in F4E. The management of the aftermath of this tragic incident was equally unfortunate by top management and governance, leading to a strike by F4E staff and several denunciations by trade unions and individual colleagues. The turmoil that lasted a few months led inter alia to the decision of the governance to replace the top management of the organisation.

The situation has since improved thanks in particular to the change in the top management, a platform for a change agenda, including the organisation of a direct expression of staff, and the very active participation of many colleagues in these initiatives. This has proved to be a period of lot of introspection, intense interactions and emotional outbreaks; all necessary elements to be able to close this chapter and move forward. It is now time to reap the benefits of these rich discussions by providing a vision and steering them from the top with the objective to prioritise, focus and act! In this context, it is crucial to set the right tone from the top to help creating and spreading the signs of a new phase in F4E. The final report on Direct Expression of Staff, with over 200 participants and 29 groups has several important conclusions. The Trade Unions in partnership with the Staff Committee will prepare specific topics that can be discussed during a Social Dialogue with our F4E Administration. We believe that by taking these steps together with you, we can make F4E an even better place to work.

In addition to a healthy working environment, it is equally important to provide a long perspective to the organization and its staff – in particular to offset the further delays coming from the ITER project. F4E should take a leading role in bringing together all European partners, being industry, scientific research or technological institutes, and invest in the development of the European vision for making fusion energy a reality.

Closer integration with the ITER Organization will certainly bring benefits both for the ITER project as well as for F4E and the European leadership in the project; it will also provide future perspectives for staff. It is however crucial for the success of this plan to identify those areas that require closer collaboration, or even One Team, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach which may lead to artificial integration, and endangering the whole exercise. In order for this to be successful, staff would need to be at the heart of this process they remain the most important resource of the project and should not feel or treated like an expendable commodity that can be coerced, moved, or replaced.

Social dialogue is key to all these challenges and should become a priority in designing the next steps. Developing and explaining a clear vision, discussing with staff and their representatives, setting objectives and agreeing on how to implement them are crucial elements for the next period to be successful. They are part of a process that requires dialogue, negotiation, consensus and time. In this context, we are therefore extremely concerned by the demands of the governance to you to present an integration plan, an improved organisation structure and a corporate culture policy, already in early September 2023 when you are only taking up your duties in the middle of May. We are at an important crossroads for the project and the organization and rush deadlines may compromise the consultation and discussions and consequently the very quality of the proposals and their implementation.

You have the privilege to have been appointed to lead an organisation of recognised professional standards. In terms of technical competencies, industrial and procurement practices, as well as of administrative excellence, F4E has received a lot of recognition from its peers, either big science organisations, such as ESA and CERN, or the EU institutions and agencies and many often look at F4E for measuring their own capacities. You can count on extremely competent and committed staff who are always prepared to go the extra mile.

We are looking forward to welcoming you and working with you for making F4E a great place to work, for successfully building ITER and for bringing fusion energy to the world.

As the largest trade union in F4E, we are at your disposal to help turn the above challenges in opportunities for all.

Georges Vlandas, U4U President.


On behalf of F4E Director nominee, Marc Lachaise, and with the authorisation of F4E Director ad interim, Jean-Marc Filhol, please find below the reply to your email communication from 13 March 2023.

Dear Mr Vlandas , Cher Monsieur Vlandas,

I refer to your message from 13 March 2023. As you are probably aware, I will formally take up my duties as Director of F4E on 16 May 2023 and I am still working full time for my current employer, but it seemed important to me to answer before my official start date.

Let me first express my appreciation for engaging with me and sharing your views on the situation at F4E. I am an advocate of social dialogue, respecting the competencies of each party, and will want to establish an open and constructive conversation with F4E’s Staff Committee and Unions.

You may be aware that I am coming from Electricité de France (EDF) which is a public enterprise and I am personally motivated to work in the public interest with public money. I am also aware of the responsibilities that come with my future position as Director of an EU body and the importance of adhering to the well-established rules and norms for human resources and financial management among others, and their spirit.

I share your views about the importance of establishing a healthy working environment this is not only good for the individuals but for the functioning of the whole organisation. F4E has a very ambitious mandate, and we need to be an effective team to deliver. I know that I will be supported by colleagues proud of working for F4E and fusion, even if ITER is going through a challenging time. I share this pride joining the team.

On 17 March 2023 I addressed an all-staff meeting at F4E where I stressed three principles that I will advocate: trust, teamwork and transparency. These are essential for a healthy and well-functioning organisation that can face the challenges of F4E’s ambitious projects.

Concerning the other specific points raised in your message, you are well aware that F4E is a complex organisation and I need to go through a steep learning curve to properly understand all aspects of the organisation and F4E’s environment before taking any decisions with long-term impact.

My focus upon joining F4E will be to bring stability, ensure that values are propagated from the top, support the management team and staff to continue their work. I will propose a meeting with the Staff Committees and Unions very early in my mandate.

Until I take up my duties on 16 May I would invite you to continue working closely with the current F4E Director and F4E management team to make progress on any existing topics.

I look forward to collaborating closely with you and thank you for your support.

Sincerely yours, Cordialement,

Marc Lachaise, F4E Director nominee.


Direct Expression of F4E Staff

Dear Colleagues,
We are happy to announce the release of the final expert report on Direct Expression of F4E Staff. The initiative stems from a proposal of the Staff Committee and the Trade Unions, that took place in October.
It was a real success we had more than 200 participants and 28 groups. Once again, many thanks to all the F4E Staff for their participation!!! In parallel we would like to take the opportunity to thank the experts to analyse the 28 group reports and to draft attached final report. This exercise is an integral part of the F4E Agora Process to hear the voice of staff. It complement the Change Agenda and the work of the different pillars.
The next step will be to hand over the report to our New F4E Director. In parallel the Unions in partnership with the Staff Committee will prepare specific topics that can be discussed during a Social Dialogue with our F4E Administration. We hope like this we will make F4E a better place to work.
Warm Regards, Staff Committee and Trade Unions. 13/02/2023

Final report   Annexes

Expression directe des salariés (octobre 2022)

In-depth Administrative Inquiry on F4E working environment

Réunion du 10/11 mars 2022 : U4U-F4E

Answer from Commissioner Simson to our joint communication (Feb 2022)

Lettre ouverte au Directeur de Fusion for Energy concernant les graves conséquences de la dégradation des conditions de travail (Mai 2021)

Answer from the Director of F4E to the above letter

Status of the F4E Administrative Enquiry (June 2021)

F4E : les syndicats écrivent aux Commissaires pour des conditions de travail décentes (Jan 2022)

JOINT COMMUNICATION BY F4E TRADE UNIONS – Information to Staff on the results of General Assembly November 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Following the General Assembly of F4E staff of 9 November 2021, and the subsequent vote on the proposal by the three trade unions (US, R&D and U4U) representing F4E staff, we would like to communicate the results of the vote of the General Assembly of Staff and the next steps forward.

Resolution adopted

1. F4E staff express their deep disappointment for the way the preliminary assessment to the inquiry for the tragic loss of our colleague Mario X was conducted, and in particular the failure to provide clear conclusions on the F4E professional environment

2. F4E staff questions the conclusions of the preliminary assessment to the inquiry, which does not take into account the continuous degradation of the F4E working conditions, and express their concern that this situation will continue and may affect more staff

3. F4E staff has decided (164 in favour, 92 against, 48 abstentions) to call for a strike as a means to protest against these events

4. F4E staff has decided (219 in favour, 50 against, 35 abstentions) to ask the representatives of the three trade unions present at F4E (US, R&D and U4U) to bring the concerns of Fusion for Energy to the attention of the political authorities in Brussels and discuss with them how to improve the situation in the organisation

5. F4E staff has decided (225 in favour, 43 against, 36 abstentions) to ask the F4E Staff Committee and the trade unions to explore the possibility of launching their own independent study to look into the root causes of the deplorable professional environment in F4E

Next steps

1. The above resolution will be communicated to the F4E administration and the members of the F4E Governing Board

2. A strike is called for the morning of 24 November 2021 (half day) in line with Article 28 of the Agreement and the trade unions will give a prior notice to the administration as foreseen by the framework agreement signed with F4E. In memory of our colleague Mario X and in solidarity with his family and close colleagues, we invite all F4E staff to gather together virtually on 24 November at 11h (a link will be provided).

More information on the different actions will be communicated in the days to come.

We would like to thank the F4E Staff Committee for their support and excellent collaboration.

Most of all, we would like to thank all members of staff for their massive participation in the General Staff Assembly and the subsequent vote it is a clear sign of the difficult moments facing us, but also of the commitment of the staff to move forward and work in together to improve the F4E working conditions.

EPSU, R&D and U4U

Notice of work stoppage (Nov 2021)

British Colleagues Fight To Reinstate Individual Rights Post-Brexit (Fev 2022)

Election to the Staff Committee 2021

Chiara Cavalieri & Gerard GomezMarlene Flageollet & Gabriella Saibene Paul Wouters & Grégoire Gathem

U4U-Fusion for Energy (F4E): one year on!

First U4U general assembly of its F4E members (20/04/2021)

Dear Colleagues,

It is a great pleasure to be here today with you for this first U4U general assembly of its F4E members.

Your general assembly is being held at a very particular time:

First of all, after more than two years of collective effort and difficult negotiations an agreement has been signed with the executive director of your agency. Moreover, after a difficult start, the social dialogue is now functioning thanks to union involvement and to the support of both the staff and the staff committee;
So, U4U, which has been the main driver for this positive development, has grown and increased its F4E membership and thanks to its more than 70 members is now present in all staff categories;
In the current climate, questions are being asked about how the agencies function. As you are aware, following extensive consultations with the agencies staff, U4U submitted 6 specific demands to the Commission president: If these demands are accepted, they could greatly improve staff working conditions;
In addition, the union landscape has changed at F4E with the late arrival on the scene of a third union. Given the limited number of staff, this risks weakening the representative presence of each trade union- not necessarily ours!
Last, but certainly not least, there are the imminent elections to the staff committee. It is important that U4U members both participate and vote in these elections. If several of our members are elected, this will increase our influence on the social dialogue within the F4E agency and contribute to the continued improvement in staff working conditions.

I wish you the very best of luck in these upcoming elections.

In addition, I encourage you to continue strengthening your team through ever greater involvement of all of your members in U4U activities.

Georges Vlandas

F4E Staff Assembly, 19 March 2021 : Opening Remarks by U4U – Georges Vlandas

Dear colleagues,

I remember now, it was more than 4 years ago back in 2017 – when we were invited to come to Barcelona for the first time. We had the opportunity to meet with all of you – F4E staff – and with the Director and the senior management. It took two more years to negotiate and sign the agreement between F4E and us, U4U and EPSU, which opened the way for a structured social dialogue, in a similar way that happens in the Commission and many other European agencies every year more.

The negotiations were not easy as F4E management was not clear about the added value of a social dialogue in particular one that takes into account the developments in all the European institutions. However, the persistence of F4E staff as expressed in a various staff assemblies, and a little help from the Commission, finally made the agreement possible. It was signed in May 2019, and formally started in October 2019.

In this year and a half, we have discussed a number of issues important to all of you: for some, we have reached an agreement, for other the discussions will continue: Contract Renewal, Long Term Human Resources Plan, Professional Incompetency and the job landscape.

On Brexit, U4U has fully supported the European approach of F4E to retain all colleagues with British Nationality.

We think that the social dialogue started 18 months ago has been a success. And we are also happy to hear that a third union may be interested to join the agreement and we would be happy to work with them as well for the benefit of F4E and its staff.

U4U has played a crucial role in these discussions:

we have put on the agenda issues stemming from a direct consultation of our members here in F4E.
we have always tried to ensure a common position with EPSU the two unions speaking with one single voice makes everyone stronger. We will do the same in case there is a third union.
we have taken the initiative on the discussions by proposing concrete solutions in the interest of staff and the organisation.
we have also helped a number of our members who have had difficulties with the administration. We have provided advice, defended them and actively sought solutions.
we have also informally discussed with F4E management concerns that have been raised by staff on an individual or collective level our idea has always been to stay pragmatic and constructive, and instead of sterile conflicts, to seek solutions and a common way forward.

In U4U, we are proud that:

we have become a driving force for the social dialogue and for change;
we have the capacity to take action both at the local level (here in Barcelona) and at the European level, by bringing together our force and experience in the EU institutions and agencies. Two weeks ago, we had a general assembly of our members and all interested staff across the agencies and we have adopted a number of demands that we have now went to the President of the Commission;
we are proud that our members have increased substantially in these 18 months

Let me finish by thanking our F4E members, but also all the F4E colleagues, for their support. We promise to remain by their side and to continue our work for the development of F4E.

The local F4e-U4U Team that you probably know, Paul Wouters, Marlene Flageollet, Chiara Cavalieri and Gerard Gomez is always available for any clarification or support you may need.

U4U at Fusion for Energy (F4E): one year already!

How long ago we, the new U4U representatives in F4E, were asking whether we would reach the 15 members required by the framework agreement signed a few weeks earlier between the unions and our Director!

Since the entry into force of this agreement on 1 October 2019, the required quorum has not only been greatly exceeded, but more importantly five technical or social dialogue meetings have been held with the representatives of the Administration. These exchanges have come at the right time: many subjects of importance for the future of the organisation and its members were, and for some still are, on the table.

While it is now accepted that the creation of open-ended positions is an essential part of the contract agents policy, there are still many unknowns regarding the final content of other strategic documents being drawn up by the Administration. The Recruitment and Mobility Plan, the use of external staff, the inventory of posts and their functions, are all subjects to which U4U intends to actively contribute. These issues are all the more important as many colleagues will be retiring in less than 10 years time and some F4E assignments are expected to be completed within 7 years. U4U intends to participate in a wider reflection on the future of F4E staff.

Beyond the Social Dialogue, U4U Barcelona has been active in accompanying several individual cases, organising a conference on pensions or alerting DG ENER and DG HR about the increase in external staff.

As in Brussels, the pandemic is now forcing us to rethink the way we work, a new topic that will soon be added to the agenda of the next Social Dialogue meetings.

We intend to ensure that 2021 will be even richer than 2020.

U4U: presence and social dialogue at Fusion for Energy (F4E)

U4U, which recently set up in Barcelona as part of Fusion for Energy, is achieving positive initial results in its social dialogue.

F4E is formally a Joint Undertaking (JU) within the meaning of the TFEU. When the international scientific organisation ITER was set up, with the sole aim of creating a demonstrator in the field of nuclear fusion, the Council negotiated with its international partners (USA, Japan, Korea, Russia, India, etc.) to establish the reactor in Cadarache, France. However, it was agreed that the Euratom part (contracts, budget, etc.) would be managed by a JU based in Barcelona, Spain.

The management of this body has been rather uneven. The staff asked the unions to support the action of the Staff Committee, which had to manage some complicated situations. After Cologne, Alicante and The Hague, U4U set up a local section at F4E, at the request of staff.

At the same time, our organisation held several general meetings with the second trade union present at F4E, Union Syndicale, which led to the conclusion of a framework agreement with the current management, with the active support of the Director General of DG ENER (link to photo on the site). This agreement was concluded just over a year ago. It came into force in autumn 2020. Since then, a social dialogue has been established with the two representative unions (U4U and EPSU).

The social dialogue has started and seems to be getting up to speed. Its aim is to defend a career civil service against the temptation of a “posting” system imported from international organisations such as ITER.

Having established the agenda of issues to be addressed in the context of social dialogue, U4U, in close collaboration with Union Syndicale, has successfully negotiated F4E’s contractual policy, the aim of which is to have permanent staff (AT, AC). The next discussion will focus on professional incompetence.

At the same time, U4U is monitoring individual cases in conjunction with its local section, which is now well established and strongly committed to helping colleagues.


Letter on Staffing levels and external resources for Fusion for Energy July 2020

Answer by Mr Juul Jørgensen to letter on staffing levels and external resources for F4E. 31/07/2020

Status of social dialogue – F4E

Dear colleagues,

U4U and EPSU-Fusion would like to update you on the status of Social Dialogue at F4E, following the signature of a framework agreement last summer. This agreement constitutes the legal framework for the social dialogue, in harmony with the activities of the Staff Committee.

We have held two meetings with the administration to determine the priority topics for social dialogue.

  1. The first concerns Professional Incompetency: we held a discussion to determine how the Commission’s decision should apply to F4E officials. We believe that it should also apply to temporary and contractual F4E staff at least for the staff with an indefinite contract, in order to protect their rights, in the event of difficulty. Indeed, this procedure also provides for remedial measures in favour of staff.
    If for the officials the proposals of the administration give satisfaction, on the other hand for the temporary and contractual agents, we are awaiting its final position.
  2. On Brexit, U4U and EPSU-Fusion fully support the European approach of F4E to retain all colleagues with British nationality. This position recognises and promotes staff loyalty to the institutions.
  3. A third subject addressed concerns the Job Landscape, which risks undermining the career of a public servant. U4U and EPSU-Fusion indicated their reservation and feel that the proposed scheme would introduce limitations on career progression that are contradictory to the Staff Regulations.

We remain at your disposal,

U4U and EPSU-Fusion

Request for a social dialogue on planned Staff reduction

(extract of a letter sent to the Director F4E on 12/11/2019)

U4U would like to start without any delay the Social Dialogue on the Long Term Human Resources Plan, given below statement that will be presented at AMC: Over the 2019-2027 period it is estimated that there will be a 20% reduction in the overall human resources used by F4E to implement its mandate.

U4U is concerned about the statement and the heavy implications it may have on the staff. We are very surprised that the Unions have not yet been consulted on such an important issue for the organization, only a technical meeting has been proposed by the administration without a specific date.

U4U believes that in the interest of the organisation and all of its F4E Staff the Social Dialogue needs to be opened prior of presenting the Long Term Human Resources Plan to the Governing Board.

Long Term Human Resources Plan of F4E
“Over the 2019-2027 period it is estimated that there will be a 20% reduction in the overall human resources used by F4E to implement its mandate.”

U4U Members – Themes for Social Dialogue and Meeting

Dear U4U members, dear colleagues,

After more than two years of discussions with the management of F4E, meetings with staff, we have finally signed together with our colleagues from USF, a framework agreement governing social dialogue in F4E.

The agreement intends to take the interest of staff into account and the success of its implementation will depend in our active involvement to define the themes of this dialogue and have fruitful discussions.

Before starting the discussions with the management of F4E, we would like to receive your input on the themes that you see as a priority for discussion.

We also intend to have a meeting with all our members in Barcelona in September.

We count on all of you to support us in our effort to improve the social dialogue in F4E.

Georges Vlandas
U4U President

Letter sent to Mr Schwemmer on 10/07/2019

Dear Mr. Schwemmer,

First of all, we would like to thank you and your services for the good collaboration and the signature of the framework agreement between F4E and the Trade Unions to improve the social dialogue in the Joint Undertaking.
We are confident that we can contribute in improving the dialogue with staff and therefore the overall working environment in the organization.
We are looking forward to starting the discussions with F4E and we are consulting with our members in order to define a first series of themes to launch the first deliberations when the agreement comes into effect on 1 October 2019.
In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to the exercise on the Job Landscape and Job Profiles which is currently taking place in a very intensive manner in F4E. Several of our members have reported that the final goal and objectives of the exercise still remain unclear and many managers and staff fail to see the benefits it would bring. In addition, it was also reported that the external consultants who have been entrusted with most of the development work have publicly stated in internal meetings that the work must absolutely finish and the decisions must be taken before the framework agreement with the trade unions comes into force on 1 October. This generates further suspicion and agitation with F4E staff on the nature and objectives of the exercise.
We would therefore like to formally ask you to discuss the Job Landscape and Job profile exercise with the trade unions before the final decisions are taken. We would be available already in September for informal discussions should you consider this necessary.

With my best regards,
Georges Vlandas, Président.

U4U: F4E/trade unions framework agreement

We have negotiated a framework agreement for structured social dialogue with the management of the Joint Undertaking. This agreement will enable better and more effective representation of staff interests by establishing the rules of social dialogue. Once this stage has been completed, U4U will endeavour to raise the problems and expectations of staff in order to find negotiated solutions in a spirit of good cooperation.

Framework agreement between the F4E agency and the organisations representing staff (27/05/2019)

Video : Signing of the F4E (Fusion for Energy) framework agreement to improve social dialogue by Mr P. Schwemmer (Director of the Agency), Mr G. Vlandas (President of the U4U trade union) and Mr B. Macklin (President of the F4E trade union) in the presence of Mr D. Ristori (Director General of DG ENER) and Mr I. Iacono (Chairman of the Central Staff Committee and Vice-President of the Union syndicale).

U4U: Letter from Mr G. Vlandas dated 29/05/2019

Dear Colleagues,

After more than two years of discussions with F4E management and meetings with staff, we have managed, together with USF, to sign a framework agreement governing the rules of social dialogue in your agency. This agreement is subject to an annual review clause with a view to possible improvements.

The implementation of this agreement represents a gamble to better take into account the interests of the staff and to better perceive the constraints of the agency. The success of its implementation will depend in part on the ability of each of the signatories to play the game of social dialogue for the benefit of all.

The hard part starts now. In the autumn, we will have to determine the themes of this dialogue, the timetable for our discussions and lay the foundations for the mutual trust necessary for the success of this agreement. To do this, we intend to rely on a united approach with our USF partners.

Our success will also depend on our representativeness, which will be strong if it is backed by employee support, particularly for our two unions. At each stage of the dialogue with the agency’s management, we intend to work out our demands with the participation of the staff, just as we intend to submit the results of the dialogue to their appreciation.

The text of the agreement and the video describing everyone’s intentions are at your disposal.

I would also like to thank you for the confidence you have shown in us and for the active support you have given us in making the presence of the trade unions at F4E clear to everyone.

Finally, I would particularly like to thank Dominique Ristori, Director General at DG Energy, who contributed greatly to establishing the climate of trust necessary for the successful conclusion of this agreement.

All the best.

General Staff Meeting on 24 November 2017

The General Staff Meeting held at F4E on 24 November 2017 was a great success, highlighted by a very large attendance (more than 200 people) and a very heated discussion for two hours.

Many issues important to the staff of the agency were addressed, including renewal of contracts, career development, as well as evaluation and promotion. The general sentiment of staff and trade unions alike was the imperative need to improve the social dialogue in F4E, in particular by agreeing a structured framework, as exists in many other agencies.

Following the General Assembly, staff and union representatives met with the F4E Director, Johannes Schwemmer. A draft framework agreement was proposed to the Director to put in place a framework for discussion between the Unions and the agency.

The next meeting between the Unions and Mr. Schwemmer to discuss, and hopefully agree, on a framework agreement is scheduled for 26 January 2018.

We would like to thank everyone for their support. We will keep you updated on the progress of this issue.

Flyer of the Staff Committee