Wilson Daycare outsourced?
Last May, the Administration decided, unilaterally and without prior social dialogue, to privatise the Wilson Daycare Centre from the start of the 2022 school year by entrusting it to the external company Esedra, whose reputation would remain to be discussed.U4U strongly opposes this increased lack of social dialogue with the staff and its representatives!U4U is against this outsourcing, which may not be the last. As a reminder, more than 15 years ago, we contributed a lot to the internalisation of the staff of the crèches and day-care centres, which was a plus for the staff who work there but also for our children.U4U is opposed to this new decision taken unilaterally by the administration, which will have negative consequences for both childcare colleagues and parents and children.All the trade unions opposed this privatisation.This opposition was communicated to Commissioner Hahn as a Common Front through the note below.
School year 2019: no outdoor childcare on 2-3 September 2019 In its note of 5 February, the OIB informed parents that there would be no outdoor childcare service on Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 September 2019. U4U believes that this decision, taken unilaterally and without consultation, will have a negative impact not only on colleagues who will have to find a childcare solution despite the fact that there is no such offer on the Belgian market for these two dates, but also on the services.It is obvious that a number of staff will be obliged to take leave on these dates in the absence of alternative solutions.In this context, it is important to emphasise the social mission of open-air childcare, which should provide a solution for colleagues whose annual leave does not cover days on which schools are closed in order to enable them to carry out their professional activities.It is also important that some trade unions, like the OIB services, not only see to the expectations of the staff at childcare centres and crèches but also to the users of these services, who are also members of staff.U4U therefore hopes that a social dialogue meeting will be held as soon as possible with the aim of finding a solution that would meet the needs of colleagues, and therefore of their services, as well as the needs of staff working at the childcare centres.
Our union wrote to the DG HR as follows: U4U letter re school year 2019: no outdoor childcare on 2-3 September 2019
Our readers wrote to us following this communication:
“Hello, I would like to thank you for your letter to the DG HR concerning the absence of a garderie aérée on 2-3 September 2019 — even though I find it very timid.
It should be pointed out that DG HR and the OIB already applied this approach last year, with total disregard for parents (and in particular those who took offence). Given the lack of any real mobilisation on the part of the unions and parents during that trial run, there was no reason why they shouldn’t do it again! According to a well-known principle at the Commission, it worked once, so the policy is now established.
It should also be noted that many colleagues have been kindly instructed to be back at work by the end of August to prepare briefings for the new Commissioners. So you have to have the gift of ubiquity to look after your children and be in the office at the same time.
Quite frankly, I hope that the outrage will be visible this year and that all the unions will mobilise. Thousands of parents are affected.
If the administration fails to listen, I propose that the unions invite all parents to take their children to the Director General of the OIB on September 2 and 3.
Thank you for your work on this issue… and all the others!
CHILD CARE: Increase in parental contributions from 2019 and U4U’s demands
GPS (after-school child care)
After-school child care (GPS) is an essential part of the working conditions offered to the staff in the Commission and in other EU institutions. To be fully productive and effective, parents need to be assured that their children are properly taken care of by an adequate service.
U4U brings you some positive news about the after-school day care for this school year:
• Applications submitted after the deadline have decreased drastically to reach approx. 80, showing that, when properly informed in due time, parents do submit complete application within the set timeframe;
• OIB has complied with its commitment to offer a place to every child of parents applying within the deadline.
Nevertheless, some improvements remains to be done:
- Applications received after the deadline have been placed on the waiting list and OIB will look into those this month. –> A place has to be given to children whose parents have applied after the deadline, in particular for new comers and isolated parents – if not all;
- Some were offered a place in the European schools GPS while having requested a place in a central GPS. –> As European schools are not centrally located and that one does not always have the school of his/her first choice, more places on the central sites have to be provided to fully meet all the demand. This will become even more important for next school year as PALM will have to close for at least two years to be fully refurbished into a creche/JE and GPS. OIB has foreseen to open additional groups in COLE but it will not be enough to respond to the whole demand. Alternative sites have thus to be identified now in order to have them ready for September 2019.
- Externalisation of GPS continues with the opening of the BarnePark site in September 2018. The future of the GPS located in Beaulieu and Geneve remains unclear as OIB has informed parents that the creche have closed/will close. –> OIB has to stop externalising its services as we are all entitled to the same quality service, including infrastructure, pedagogical project, security, food, etc.
As a consequence, U4U strongly requests that, one hand, OIB increases its offer on central GPS and, on the other, extends its inter-institutional GPS by avoiding using any subcontracting of GPS.
U4U also encourages other institutions to step in to provide at least temporary alternatives for the closure of PALM in September 2019, in particular the European Parliament, the CESE and the CoR (as the Council already provided Van Merlandt GPS building).
1 October 2018
No child left behind !
Crèches/After-school child care centres in Brussels: 1,350 places short
European Schools: only one child in two can be educatedNo child left behindDespite the administration’s efforts, the situation concerning the educational facilities provided for our children is not encouraging. There have been long delays on this subject, and the efforts currently being made are not enough to rectify the current shortcomings.More specifically, we need around 750 more places in crèches. The level of supervision in the Commission’s inter-institutional crèches is also deteriorating and is inadequate for 40% of the time, sometimes even failing to comply with the legal rules governing child supervision. The situation regarding proximity to home and/or school is inadequate, and it is not even under review. To increase the number of places available in crèches, the administration has been forced to make agreements with local private crèches, with mixed results. Finally, the other institutions are able to secure places for the children of their staff in the Commission’s crèches, but they do not respond in kind to the Commission’s staff, whose children are excluded from the crèches of the Council and the EP.There are also insufficient places in the after-school facilities (around 600 short for the 2016-2017 school year), despite the administration’s decision to open new groups at WILSON and Berkendael. The administration is also exploring the possibility of outsourcing to private organisations, but these solutions will not be available for the next school year, and there are doubts about whether the quality will be maintained. Provision in the European Schools, the main short-term alternative, is also inadequate. The possibility of increasing the intake of the Palmeston building would be helpful, although this could not be implemented by September. Places could also be found in buildings accommodating the Commission’s services, as is already the case to a limited degree, but there is not enough political will to expedite movement in this direction.As for the European Schools, barely one child in two is educated there. Access in Brussels and Luxembourg to children from social categories other than officials is no longer possible, which is making the education situation worse. The available options are reduced by the lack of room. Just recently completed, the 4th school is no longer adequate. The authorities were obliged to keep the Berkendael school open, despite issues with transport, canteen facilities and extra-curricular activities. The creation of the 5th school is on the agenda, but as usual the authorities are making very slow progress.The situation has been getting worse for more than 30 years. The resources needed arrive too late, and by the time they are in place they are no longer enough.U4U recommends the organisation of a round table involving the Board of Governors of the European Schools, representatives of the host countries of the institutions, the European Commission, and representatives of the users and staff of the institutions to develop a 5-year contingency plan.In the immediate future, 7 urgent measures must be implemented to ensure a “no child left behind” policy:
- Increase the number of both child care and after-school workers (statutory staff)·
- Open up places in crèches to all of the institutions (including the crèches of the Council and Parliament)·
- Favour contracts with private crèches that prioritise proximity to home and/or school·
- Increase the number of after-school child care places in schools·
- Use the institutions’ buildings to accommodate new after-school child care facilities·
- Increase the capacity of the Berkendael school and make it the starting point for the future 5th school·
- Urgently select the final site of the 5th school so that work can commence, enabling it to open in 4 years.
- Letter to Ms Georgieva and results of the consultation on the above text.
- Letter from AdP to Ms Georgieva on the ‘no child left behind’ campaign
- Letter from AdP to DGs: Afterschool childcare facilities in your building(s) (March 2017)
- Position of the Parents’ Association (AdP) on the capacity of the afterschool childcare centre (May 2017)
- Position of the Parents’ Association (AdP) on the capacity of the afterschool childcare centre (May 2017)
Will the ‘Genève’ crèche close?
The inter-institutional crèche on Rue de Genève is threatened with closure :
Extract from the minutes of the MANAGEMENT MEETING (OS CONFIGURATION) OF 03 NOVEMBER 2015 :
Closure of Geneva: the CPE is preparing a note proposing exit arrangements and a timetable. Children will be placed in local crèches nearby. The closure will enable existing staff to be repatriated to the central sites and the number of temporary staff to be reduced. The premises could be used for after-school care (to be examined), otherwise they will be returned to the OIB.RE.
There has been no consultation with parents or unions. This crèche serves parents who work on rue de Genève or rue du Colonel Bourg, i.e. a long way from the ‘European Quarter’. It is operating at full capacity. Once again, the administration is making a cynical mockery of the welfare of parents and their children.
Crèches and childcare centres: shortcomings and demands
On the 4th of May, the opening ceremony of the Grand Clovis crèche took place attended by Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Irène Souka, Director General of the DG HR and Marc Mouligneau, Director of the OIB. On this occasion, Linda Rowan, current head of the Commission’s crèches, emphasised that “the overall level of parent satisfaction remains very high, with a score of 94% for all crèches”.U4U believes that there are still some serious problems to tackle and wants to take this opportunity to:
- expose the main problems observed in the crèches and childcare centres;
- state its demands;
- give staff the opportunity to express their opinions and to support, or criticise, the views expressed in this paper in order to broaden the debate.
Hundreds of children on waiting lists
While the office of the Vice-President responsible for the budget and human resources stresses the importance of well-being at work and achieving a work/life balance, hundreds of children are still on waiting lists for crèches and after-school childcare centres, leaving a considerable number of colleagues with no options.It should also be noted that with the transfer of the Palmerston crèche to the “Grand Clovis” WALI building, one kindergarten class has been closed. For the first time, there is now a waiting list for kindergarten classes in 2015.
Insufficient and inadequate solutions
Furthermore, at the present time, the solutions proposed by the administration are insufficient and inadequate.
- Increasing the number of places in private crèches that have an agreement with the Commission: these crèches are not subject to the same rules as the inter-institutional crèches and therefore represent a lower-quality offering (staff qualifications, medical unit, infrastructure, teaching curriculum, etc.);
- Changing the half-time regime : although a number of additional places (part-time only) were created by this new arrangement, some serious disruptions have been observed in the kindergartens, particularly in respect of the well-being of the children. This new half-time regime is also incompatible with half-time working or a return to full-time employment at the Commission, limiting the possibilities for colleagues in the Services to adopt the working arrangements set out in the new Staff Regulations;
- Kindergarten places: those parents whose children were enrolled for the “grande section” (last year of kindergarten) at Grand Clovis, but who could not get a place at this site, were offered a place at another location, requiring them to double or even triple their transport time.
Inadequate quality of reception and safety
Finally – and this aspect is far from the least important – the ratio of staff to children in crèches is too low early and late in the day, calling into question the quality of care on arrival and the safety of the children.Indeed, with childcare workers working flexible hours, the first and last few hours at kindergartens are covered by a single employee, sometimes a temporary worker (and therefore not subject to the same recruitment criteria), despite the fact that there should be a higher level of attendance at these times:
• numerous children are already/still present and the kindergarten classes are sometimes full (this has been compounded by the change to a 40-hour week);
• the arrival and departure of the children are important times for their well-being, and the childcare worker, if she is alone, is not available as she should be;
U4U believes that it is unreasonable to ask a single person to supervise around ten young children efficiently, and unfortunately we have received reports of incidents and even complaints of neglect or mistreatment occurring at these times.
U4U therefore demands that the following measures are introduced as soon as possible:
- Increasing the number of places in inter-institutional crèches and childcare centres to provide quality care for all;
- Setting up a quality control system in private crèches that have an agreement with the Commission and improving the services provided by these structures;
- Changing the operating methods and, if necessary, the regulations of the crèches to re-establish a system that respects the children’s natural rhythm and is compatible with our working hours as laid down by the Staff Regulations (parental leave, part-time working, etc.);
- The reception of children for this category of parent must also be improved by increasing the number of places provided;
- Creating an additional kindergarten at “Grand Clovis” for the start of the 2015 school year;
- Increasing the number of staff on duty at the beginning and end of the day to ensure that the children are never supervised by just one person.
Resolution of the General Meeting of 16 June 2014
Nursery staff met at a General Meeting on 16 June 2014.
- Having regard to the reform of the Staff Regulations and the RAA (scheme of application for other agents) which has been in force since 01.01.2014.
- Having regard to the obligation imposed by this reform to increase the statutory working time from 37.5 hours to 40 hours per week.
- Having taken note of the various reports sent by the administration on the progress of meetings of the Crèches/garderies Technical Group.
- Having regard to the discussions at the last meeting of the Technical Group, in which the administration recommended changing the timetable from 07.45 to 08.00 in the morning and from 18.30 to 18.45 in the evening, despite the low attendance recorded during the ¼ hour in the morning and evening currently being tested.
- crèche staff do not benefit from flexible working arrangements, unlike the rest of the EC’s staff, and their children are also penalised; these arrangements make it impossible to reconcile private and professional life;
- the working hours in force during this test period were satisfactory both in terms of the service provided to parents and to the staff themselves, who had to adapt accordingly;
- the new option proposed by the administration to extend nursery hours meets neither the expectations of parents, staff nor children, who will be forced to stay longer in the nurseries.
- that staff are planning action, including strikes, if the current timetable is not adhered to
- trade unions to issue strike notice in accordance with the rules set out in the framework agreement.
Following the publication of our leaflet (see below), we contacted the Commission’s administration to ask them to agree to discussions based on our proposal.
The most important thing for our organisations is to safeguard the interests of our parents and childcare colleagues, as well as the welfare of our children.
The solution to be found at the end of a social dialogue, desired at the level of the Director General of DG HR, must be of an “experimental” nature and therefore be subject to evaluation, or even revision, at the end of a trial period to be defined jointly.
The signatory organisations: R&D, FFPE, Conf SFE, U4U / RS 12/12/2013
Inter-institutional crèches: ensuring that needs are met through unity between professionals and users!
The Commission has decided to increase the working week to 40 hours and reduce staff numbers by 5% or even 10%. This is causing problems in inter-institutional crèches. The administration wants to increase the opening hours of these crèches while maintaining the same number of staff, without improving the existing situation, while reducing the quality of working conditions for nursery nurses. The service provided to children – and therefore to parents (civil servants, temporary and contract staff) – will deteriorate.
Our unions – U4U/RS, R&D, Conf. SFE, FFPE – are advocating an approach that ensures the convergence of common interests between nursery nurses and statutory parents. The two objectives are to improve the quality of childcare in crèches and to improve the working conditions of crèche staff. Without this second objective, the first cannot be achieved.
We therefore ask the Commission to :
- Do not increase the amount of time nursery nurses spend in contact with children;
- Double the number of nursery nurses at reception and at the end of the day in order to improve the adult/child ratio;
- Consider children’s well-being and social issues as a positive priority;
- Consider the children of nursery nurses as priority children in crèches, as is the case in European schools for administrative and service staff;
- Refusing to introduce a “garderie” service in crèches after 6.15 p.m., during which children would be grouped together regardless of their age group, and lowering the staffing levels applicable during the day.
- Increase evening opening hours by 15 or 30 minutes: 6.30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and 6 p.m. on Fridays;
- Increase the number of nursery nurses and nurses;
- Decide on an action plan to make a lasting impact on the shortage of places (more than 850 children on the waiting list) within two years by creating new places in inter-institutional crèches;
- Start social dialogue at DG HR level as soon as possible, and not at the level of a “technical” OIB group, as some people are advocating;
- Also invite staff delegations and the parents’ association to social dialogue meetings.
La Commission refuse de tirer les conséquences qui s’imposent suite à sa réforme du Statut. Elle doit considérer le social comme un priorité positive.
Let’s work together to support the demands of our nursery colleagues and parents.
General Meeting of crèches and nurseries of the European Commission in Brussels
RESOLUTION adopted on 6 December 2013
Staff from the crèches and childcare sector meeting at the General Meeting on 6 December 2013,
- informed by the unions of the status of discussions with the administration on the organisation of working time in the sector following the extension of the working week,
- There are not enough staff in these structures;
- the extension of the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours is applicable to all staff of the institutions covered by the Staff Regulations and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants, including staff whose contracts do not expressly mention a particular working week;
- the initial proposals put forward by the OIB were unacceptable for the following reasons:
- failure to take account of the specific nature of the sector, in particular the arduous nature of the work (awkward postures, continuous noise, exposure to illness, stress, the need for constant vigilance, etc.),
- failure to factor into staff working hours tasks other than looking after children (meetings, training, tidying rooms, cleaning toys, educational preparation, administrative procedures….),
- failure to comply with health and safety standards, in particular the standards of the ONE and Kind en Gezin organisations, during the period of extended hours proposed for the end of the day,
- failure to take into account the family constraints of staff in the sector whose children do not have access to the Commission’s crèches and nurseries;
- as nursery/day-care staff do not benefit from flexible working arrangements, unlike the rest of the EC’s staff, the proposed arrangements will not make it possible to reconcile private and professional life, and the children of these staff are also penalised;
- during meetings of the technical group set up between the OIB and the OSPs, possible solutions were outlined, but at this stage there is no guarantee that these possibilities will materialise,
- AUTHORISES the unions to give immediate notice of strike action as a precautionary measure, from 09 December 2013,
- INVITES the unions to continue discussions with the OIB and DG HR within the framework of the technical group, and to put forward a request for an increase in staff numbers and a prioritisation of the children of nursery/childcare staff in the allocation of places,
- REQUESTS the unions to keep staff regularly informed at other general meetings or by any other appropriate means.