U4U organizes regularly some meetings on the workplace. Everybody is invited to walk in and to speak freely.
These meetings are announced on our home page under the ‘Meet the staff’ heading.
The texts below are the results of these meetings. We don’t publish minutes (thus avoiding any identification of participants) but these texts reflect the common conclusions. They are then published and, often, are the support of further meetings with the hierarchy, leading in most cases, in some improvements of working conditions.
PMO tensions: missing the forest for the trees
Responsible for an annual budget of around €5 billion and managing not only salaries but also medical expenses, pensions and missions, the PMO is an essential service for the smooth running of the EU institutions and agencies that use its services.
The staff of this Office therefore deserve not only to have their work recognised, but above all to be treated with the same attention and the same rights as other Commission departments.
However, the reality is far from this “ideal”, or should we say this minimum requirement of organisational and social justice.
In response to this situation, the administration has decided to set up “listening chambers” to enable the staff concerned to express their views on the management of the Office.
While we naturally welcome this step, we can only draw the attention of all concerned to the fact that, however necessary it may be, it will unfortunately not be sufficient.
Beyond the various complaints received about the management of the Office, or even the management “style” of its Director, we must indeed bear in mind that the source of the problem lies deeper.
Austerity and budget cuts have led to continuous and increasingly disruptive reorganisation, which has aggravated the already difficult situation of colleagues employed under very unfavourable statutes, despite the fact that they have responsibilities of paramount importance for the whole organisation.
More than ever, these colleagues face a lack of real career prospects and professional development. Measures that would allow them to progress or be promoted (internal competitions, changes of category, etc.) are few and far between, leading to a growing feeling that their work is not recognised and valued.
Far from being a solution to these problems, the reorganisation that has taken place has only exacerbated an already extremely tense situation.
While we fully support the principle of the ongoing management investigations, we believe it is important to reflect more deeply on the resources allocated to the Office and the disparities in status within it.
It is time to put the matter on the table and examine it systematically and thoroughly, so that the tree of management methods does not hide the forest of inadequate resources and the extremely unfavourable status of our colleagues in the PMO.
E-mail of 8 May 2019, concerning plans to change the working environment :
Dear Mr BUDG,
I would like to thank you for your proposal to initiate a social dialogue on the transformation of the working environment of the services of your Directorate-General, in which I guarantee the active participation of our organisation.
As with any transformation of the working environment, this will require intensive dialogue both with the staff concerned and with the intermediary bodies, i.e. the trade unions and the Staff Committee. No change in the working environment would be beneficial to the departments if it were carried out against the advice of the staff, or even if it did not require their involvement, and if it did not clearly constitute an improvement in working conditions.
Our staff have often had to suffer as a result of developments that have gone against them, often imposed on them. The latest staff satisfaction survey showed that Commission staff quite often felt that they were not sufficiently recognised, and that their opinions were not sufficiently taken into account, according to the analysis of the results. This now provides an opportunity to reverse this trend by demonstrating in practice, together, that this is not the case, by ensuring that changes to the working environment are built with staff, in a physical setting designed from the outset for this purpose, based on the reality of each person’s work and not conceived a priori from “outside”.
Staff are the main asset of the institution and its Directorates-General. Their contribution must be valued and their working conditions preserved or even improved.
In these uncertain times, when the construction of Europe is marking time or even faltering, our priority is to bind our social corps together to better implement the Union’s policies.
I’m sure you share this view. That is why our organisation hopes that the forthcoming dialogue will provide the right solutions. At each stage of this dialogue, U4U will act in consultation with the staff concerned, as a guarantee of its usefulness.
We look forward to our next meeting and thank you once again for your offer of dialogue.
Georges Vlandas, President.
Beaulieu – Rotation of BU29 CIANO staff 25/05/2016
DEVCO is one of the biggest DGs of the Commission: 3325 Officials, CA & LA with 30% in Headquarters & 70% in Delegations (40% of EU staff in Delegation are DEVCO) – Mai 2016
Deafening echoes from DG ECHO: lack of dialogue and poor working conditions.
DG ECHO’s colleagues undergo their second reorganization in three years. Even if its validity is not questioned, they complained, at a meeting held in this DG, not to have not been consulted upstream on their assignment, to have had no choice and that the individual workload was miscalculated. A chambre d’écoute has been put in place, but in most cases the goal seems to have been to get acceptance on the decisions already made.
In addition, work in Building L-86 is handled by OIB in a problematic manner. This work began in September 2018 and should be completed by mid-April 2019, behind schedule (end of December 2018). These works are particularly noisy all day, not from 16hrs and on weekends, as originally planned.
In addition, the staff took note of the results of the satisfaction survey for DG ECHO. The presentation that DG ECHO made of it does not make it possible to compare its results with those of all the other DGs. At Management’s initiative a new ECHO-HR-BC-STAFF-SURVEY functional box has been opened. It will be interesting to see how the management will take these results into consideration, knowing that those of the previous survey hardly seem to have been taken into account.
Moreover, with one exception, all offices of the hierarchy are located on the garden side and not on the street side of the rue de la Loi, particularly noisy, the disadvantages do not seem equally distributed.
A final point of concern for the colleagues is the internal relocations following the reorganization: the building currently occupied by DG ECHO does not allow to accommodate the additional staff for the RESCEU project. In this context, a directorate is forced to move and was offered a choice that was not really one: either agree to go to ‘open space’ to LOI 15, which seems to have been refused by another DG, or to occupy the 3rd and 4th floors of LOI 130 that DG AGRI does not wish to use because, it seems, odors of kitchen and exhaust fumes (garage) and many passages.
DG Human Resources
- Recentralisation of logistics functions: letter to DG HR June 2016
- Social dialogue on “modernising the HR function” May 2016
“Open space” at NEAR: is this about consulting staff or making a marketing move?
24/10/2016 – NEAR’s chief executive has just announced to staff that they will be brought together on a single site, Loi 15, and housed in “open space”, without further information.
DG NEAR is currently spread over three sites. While we think it is a good idea to bring staff together on a single site, this should not be done on the cheap, and therefore to the detriment of staff. Even if DG RTD moves out of LOI 15, this building is not large enough to house all NEAR staff. In other words, the aim is to save space and not to organise work in a new way. This is a pity, especially given the difficult situation in which our colleagues already find themselves, as illustrated in the analysis made by our organisation following on-site visits.
U4U is not a priori against open spaces.
The presentation of open spaces and the proposed move must be preceded by consultation with staff, who must be given the opportunity to discuss, modify or reject the proposed plans. The organisation of space must first of all be done with the agreement of colleagues, as at TAXUD, where staff were not ultimately moved from their site because they disagreed.
Such a move to open space must follow a business logic. This is not the case here. This logic may, for example, be useful for teams working as part of a task force, or in the interpretation or translation departments, or for teams working on several sites, etc. In other words, open space is not an option. In other words, open space is not the solution for everyone, in every situation, including at NEAR.
This change must result in an improvement in the workspace, or at least in the maintenance of the existing, better arranged space, which is not the case here. In the case of NEAR, the only rationale that emerges is that of saving space, under the guise of the need to consolidate services.
There appears to be no such rationale in the case of the NEAR management project. The operation here resembles a marketing approach aimed at convincing staff at all costs.
U4U is calling for a rapid dialogue meeting with NEAR’s CEO, in the presence of all the trade unions present on the site.
See also our ‘open space’ dossier
Petition “Stop staff cuts immediately”
The Commission’s translators are launching a petition “Stop staff cuts immediately” addressed to Commissioner Hahn. The permanent delegation of translators is protesting against the continuing reduction in staff numbers since 2012, well in excess of the 5% announced for the Commission as a whole for 2013-2017. It points out that the accumulation of evening and weekend overtime, the multiplication of precarious contracts and the workload are jeopardising the continuity of the service and the quality and health of staff. Technological advances have already had their effects and it is no longer possible for them to compensate for other cuts.
Pointing out that the DGT is responsible for the translation of the Europa website, which is currently largely monolingual, the TPD believes that any new gains in efficiency should be used to serve the public. The quality of the texts produced in all the official languages determines the legal validity of legislation, the reputation of the Commission and the democratic legitimacy of the European Union.
U4U can only support this appeal to reason. The Commission must resist the siren calls of at least one branch of the Budgetary Authority and defend its human capital and operating capacity. Fifteen years of cuts and casualisation of staff have undermined the institution, which has also taken on new tasks such as defence, increased funding for the environment, research and youth. The major challenges facing our economy, our social cohesion and the stability of our borders cast an indignity over demands for penny-pinching savings. The Court of Auditors has sounded the alarm: a lot of savings have been made since 2004 on the administration of the institutions (which accounts for only 6% of the European budget!!) but the human cost is there, and in many areas the European civil service has ceased to be attractive (it is no longer ‘competitive’).
Budgetary savings are not Europe’s ambition and do not meet the expectations of its citizens. Let’s support our translator colleagues in their fight.
General activity report of the Mediation Service 2016
- Note from the Permanent Delegation of Translators to Mr. MARTIKONIS, DG of DGT: Ensuring ergonomically adequate working conditions for translators.
- Read the full report…
Temporary Agents in OLAF
U4U formally invited the Director-General of OLAF, who enjoy AIPN powers independently from the DG HR, to support the actions of his temporary staff looking for a redress of unfair past situations.
This formal request follows a bilateral meeting held three years ago in which the OLAF Director-General underlined his flexibility and willingness to find an acceptable solution for this group of staff in OLAF. U4U, always involved in the protection of Temporary Agents’ rights and working conditions in all Commission departments and Services as well as in other EU Institutions, asked the OLAF Director-General to show concretely his support to the staff.
Despite the fact that we have received no feedback from the OLAF Director-General yet, we are confident he will honour his previous commitments and support his staff with openness and fairness. What is at stake is the trust that OLAF Temporary Agents have in their manager.
U4U will ensure a follow up and will inform the staff in due time. (June 2017)
- OLAF reorganisation: U4U support to staff (Sept 2020)
- Letter to DG OLAF: Reorganisation of OLAF – follow-up. Concerns and prospects for action (April 2020)
- Letter to Mr Ville Itala, DG OLAF, re contract prolongation for Specialised Temporary Agents (April 2020)
- Case law analysis: impartiality, rights of access to personal data, good administration
OLAF: Night working hours
During a bilateral meeting held three years ago, U4U underlined the lack of procedures to recuperate the hours worked out of normal office hours. This was notably the case of night hours of investigators, forensic staff and other OLAF Staff with atypical working hours.
The OLAF Director-General took note of the issue and, two years later, has settled a procedure enabling the staff to recuperate what they over delivered. The procedure may be fine-tuned but it fills a lacuna legis which placed staff and management in a weird position.
The praxis of “informal” recuperation may thus be discontinued and the staff has a clear entitlement to recuperate the hours worked out of typical office hours.
U4U would follow up on the fine tuning of the procedure and will continue to back-up any staff from whom supplementary efforts are requested to ensure that a fair compensation is made available as an entitlement. Recuperation of these hours, notably night hours, should by no means be submitted to the free appreciation of the manager. (June 2017)
EPPO and OLAF
The number of posts to be transferred to the future European Public Prosecutor Office has been disclosed by the European Commission, shared by the Commission with the Council and sent to the European Parliament.
Despite the document having been prepared in cooperation with OLAF, the staff has not been (again) properly informed of the consequences for them. Almost 50 Full Time Equivalents are to be transferred from the establishment plan of OLAF to the EPPO. That’s what the official document seems to have established.
There has been no communication to the OLAF staff on their future work or work location. While Mrs Georgieva, former member of the Commission responsible, stated that an agreement was signed by the Commission and the Minister of foreign affairs of Luxembourg concerning the presence of Commission staff and seats in Luxembourg, no member of the staff has been delivered a copy of it.
U4U will continue to provide access to this information for all the staff of OLAF. (June 2017)
The European Court of Auditors will have an impact (positive) on OLAF
According to the OLAF press revue of 14 June 2017, the European Court of Auditors will focus on anti-fraud policies and measures as well as on investigations. OLAF will be visited again.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) wants to launch an audit of how the European Commission manages the risk of fraud in EU spending. The audit will focus on fraud prevention and fraud response and will include contributions from NGOs, academics and prosecutors, as well as Europol and Eurojust.
In a 2015 Eurobarometer survey on perceptions of fraud and corruption affecting the EU budget, 71% of respondents thought that fraud occurred “rather frequently” and 60% felt that corruption was “significant in the EU institutions”
U4U reminds the staff that working conditions have a direct impact on the output delivered by the Commission departments and services, consequently, this aspect of the fraud policies and measures, the human factor, should also be taken into account. Members of the OLAF staff should be given the anonymous opportunity of providing information to the European Court of Auditors on how they face the working challenges daily.
This is particularly relevant when the Staff Survey places OLAF, year after year, in the last positions of the Commission in terms of satisfaction. Regrettably, the raw data of these surveys is only made available to the HR and to the management of OLAF, thus avoiding the trade unions to support the staff there where they needed most. (June 2017)
Will all institutions soon have kitchen gardens?
Kitchen gardens in the buildings of the European civil service? Let’s go crazy and dream !
Five years ago, at the Commission, colleagues from DG AGRI, supported by the HR unit, launched their vegetable garden. The initiative, which one would have thought would not last, continues on its way. It deserves to be evaluated closely. And disseminated.
Associated with its creation from the beginning, U4U supported this vegetable garden, convinced that it met a series of needs.
In terms of prevention of psychosocial risks and therapies to combat stress, many studies today document the benefits of gardening or market gardening to focus the mind on a creative and meaningful activity. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing growing what is sown. Cultivating flowers, vegetables or herbs is a great tool against depression, sadness, isolation or overwork. Sharing the harvest with colleagues is a source of pleasure. Working in a friendly environment (that is, one that you can like) is fundamental to all of us.
Because the vegetable garden is also a way to create social bonds between colleagues from different units who exchange good practices and experiments. It offers those who cultivate a space of sociability, especially for expatriates that we are. Around the vegetable garden are decided other activities, such as visiting farms in organic or permaculture around Brussels, common lunches to exchange seeds, sowing and good practices. The garden is not interested in anyone’s status: everyone is welcome and in fact, around the tanks, we are all equal before the vagaries of the climate and the hazards of the shoot.
For those who animate the garden and coordinate its activities, the responsibility assumed is meaningful because it is useful to colleagues, and more broadly, to the institution, in that it offers an additional tool of cohesion while giving motivation to some, and the feeling of belonging to one community to others. Self-managed, it is a democratic space that shows that left free to organize, colleagues know very well do it.
The advantage of this activity is that it does not take a considerable time: once in the ground, the plant grows all by itself, with a few waterings that are shared between the presents, each being attached to the tank of the other, in its absence.
Gardening with others in the city center is also part of this broader citizen movement that seeks to exploit every free corner of the city to plant a seed of sociability and nature, another way of living together and to share.
Our HR colleagues, at whatever institution, office or agency they belong to, could draw inspiration from the benefits of this initiative: vegetable gardens, where the sites lend themselves to them, can be created anywhere in Europe and in the world, in institutions and agencies.
But to do so, you have to create the conditions for support, first by offering spaces in the different buildings where it is possible, and there are some. Then by promoting the activity and fighting against the reluctance of some. Those who engage in this activity never do it at the expense of their tasks and goals. It must not be frowned upon to be seen in the garden. And you have to convince those who are reluctant to get involved that they have nothing to fear from the system: they will not be misunderstood to be sowing at work. We must create a culture of trust where any initiative that tends to build the link between us is considered essential and not anecdotal, even suspicious.
To all our institutions that:
- develop action plans to combat psychosocial risks,
- develop activities within the framework of the wellbeing,
- design kits to promote the integration of newcomers,
- think about how to create empathic environments,
- question how to combat the negative aspects of expatriation,
- are working to better articulate all our differences by looking for what we have in common,
and to all those who do not think about it, U4U can not recommend too much to try the experience of a vegetable garden in their walls. Talk to your staff, look for volunteers, try.
See you in 5 years to evaluate the benefits!
Restructurations à la DG AGRI… Un processus qui nous concerne tous !
La DG AGRI fait partie des DGs qui paieront un bien plus lourd tribut que les autres aux réductions de personnel. Quand vous coupez des ressources à un organisme, plus qu’à un autre, c’est soit qu’il était surdoté par rapport à ses besoins, soit qu’il n’est plus une priorité. C’est cette dernière hypothèse que nous retenons: la politique agricole commune et son important budget ne sont plus une priorité pour l’Union, et ces réductions des ressources humaines préfigurent la place décroissante que cette politique, une des rares qui soit commune, tiendra dans le futur parmi l’ensemble des politiques de l’Union. Il faut le reconnaître et s’y préparer.
Ces réductions interviennent hors de l’exercice des perspectives financières, et avant même que la Commission n’ait produit sa première évaluation sur la PAC rénovée, due pour 2018. De ce fait, c’est le moment de s’interroger sur les objectifs et la nature d’une politique agricole commune, sur ce que cette politique doit éventuellement continuer à être et ce qu’elle devrait servir. De la réponse à ces questions seulement pourra naître la réorganisation nécessaire, pertinente et pensée pour être efficace, des ressources qu’on lui laisse. Le DG Jerzy PLEWA et le Commissaire Phil HOGAN invitent, dans une lettre ouverte au personnel, ce dernier à lui faire des suggestions d’ici le 12 mai 2016 pour modeler la future DG AGRI.
Sur le fond, cette consultation sur l’avenir de la DG AGRI est une bonne chose. En pratique, sans réflexion sur ce que pourrait être un mandat politique clair pour le futur, sans orientation, sans conduite d’un exercice de concertation correctement animé et coordonné, la boîte à idées pourrait ne déboucher que sur quelques solutions de rustine, le temps de passer à l’étape réductrice prochaine. Espérons que la réunion convoquée par le Directeur général le 24 mai prochain avec l’ensemble du personnel de la DG permettra de façonner l’architecture d’un travail qui ne fera pas l’impasse sur une réflexion profonde de comment doit évoluer la politique agricole commune pour répondre aux défis multiples, fixer les priorités, identifier les activités à maintenir, améliorer nos méthodes de travail et organiser le travail de façon plus efficace.
La vérité est que les synergies sont à trouver avec les DGs de la famille fonds structurels, voire de la RTD et des relations extérieures, en clarifiant les relations avec la DG ENV, et qu’il faudrait être audacieux pour remettre l’ouvrage à plat, histoire de concevoir une autre manière d’aborder l’agriculture. Interrogeons sa place, dans une vision plus intégrée – et ambitieuse – des développements des territoires, son rôle fondamental d’organisatrice des environnements, d’outil au service de la biodiversité et de la résilience, de créatrice d’activités agricoles en phase avec les défis pour les générations futures, notamment le changement climatique. Concevons-la au-delà de sa fonction nourricière, tout en restant en mesure de prévenir et de réagir aux crises de production. Rêvons d’un think tank dédié à ce remodelage.
Dans l’immédiat, la seule certitude, c’est qu’il faut libérer des postes, et avec ces postes, réduire le nombre de personnels (c’est que les indicateurs de performance de certains en dépendent). Ici le bât blesse parce que l’imagination sur le “comment faire bien” fait défaut et avec elle, l’indispensable conscience que nous traitons avec du matériau humain et qu’on ne saurait le regarder que comme des chiffres, des coûts et des statistiques.
L’administration compte sur les départs à la retraite. Mais on sait déjà qu’ils ne suffiront pas. Elle invitera pourtant le plus grand nombre à partir, mais comment? Par des pressions subliminales dont nul n’ignore la violence effective ou par des incitants décents? Pour ceux qui n’auront su/pu trouver un poste égal, en terme d’intérêt et en fonction, elle propose des formations expresses pour changer de métier: comme si un métier s’improvisait en quelques jours de formation. Et comme si chacun avait la possibilité d’effectuer un changement radical. Comme si chacun n’avait pas une trajectoire et un profil spécifique dont il faut tenir compte. La DG HR saura-t-elle aider et appuyer ces collègues tandis qu’elle se restructure profondément? Sont-ils prioritaires ? L’administration invite chacun à exprimer ses préférences mais limite ou empêche la création de postes dans plus de la moitié des DGs: dans ces conditions, où aller? Quels moyens se donne-t-on pour faire du travail propre et soigné quand s’actionnera l’article 7, et quelles nouvelles affectations seront imposées à des collègues expérimentés, disposant souvent d’une expertise pointue dans leur domaine d’activité?
Et c’est sans parler de l’impact combiné de ces réductions et de la nouvelle politique de mobilité du middle management. En supprimant des dizaines d’unités RH, autant de chefs d’unité arrivent sur le marché. Il sera encore plus difficile à la DG AGRI, pour ceux qui y ont déjà deux, voire davantage de mandatures, de faire une mobilité et donc de conserver cette fonction. Quelle réversibilité digne pour eux est-elle envisagée? Et qui va s’occuper de leur accompagnement si toute la famille RH est occupée à se restructurer elle-même? Et dans cette grande valse, saura-t-on conserver l’indispensable mémoire dont notre institution a besoin pour se souvenir d’où elle vient et savoir mieux où aller?
Prescriptrice de directives sur le dialogue social, sur l’environnement de travail, sur le bien-être des travailleurs, etc. notre administration, une fois de plus, ne donne pas l’exemple de ce qu’une société empathique doit être, même forcée par la nécessité de changer. Le changement est souvent un bien, mais tout dépend de comment il est conduit.
La Commission a promis des économies démesurées, mais le personnel ne saurait être sa variable d’ajustement. N’épuisons pas notre richesse en la minant. Soignons-la, parce qu’elle est la colonne vertébrale du projet, la ressource sans laquelle, ainsi que le rappelle à l’envi la VP K. Georgieva, rien de tout cela ne fonctionnerait. Et gare à ceux qui pensent que ça peut fonctionner à n’importe quelle condition: ils creusent notre tombe à tous. Mais seront-ils encore là demain pour rendre compte de leurs actes et de leurs conséquences? L’histoire nous a démontré que tous ceux qui se sont acharnés à nous démanteler poursuivent de bien belles carrières dans les meilleures sphères….
DG AGRI: premises management
Stand firm, Director-General
We are writing to you on behalf of 250 colleagues in our Directorate General who have signed our petition “Support our DG to negotiate in force with the OIB”, to ask you to stand firm.
We cannot accept that our DG should have to give back the space that the OIB, which is responsible for calculating, recovering and planning space, has calculated by the end of 2015, when the final horizon is the end of 2023!
We want measures to ease the pressure that longer working hours in cramped spaces will inevitably put on everyone. In particular, we:
Refuse to allow the minimum space requirements set out in the Accommodation Manual to become the maximum applicable.
Refuse to allow the planned moves to take place without taking into account the particular and exceptional timetable of our DG for the approval, in particular, of the new Rural Development programmes in which practically ALL the DG is involved.
We demand that the OIB proceed with moderation, respecting the characteristics of each building and the planned timetable (2023!).
We accept that all colleagues who so wish should be able to telework, provided that this is compatible with the activity of the unit.
In line with the achievements of the flexitime negotiations, let us establish individual coretimes for colleagues who request them.
We know that you and your team are fighting hard with the OIB to ensure decent accommodation conditions for your staff. You now know that you can count on its active support.
For its part, U4U will be contacting DG Human Resources and the OIB to inform them of the result of the petition and the firm commitment of DG AGRI staff to defend decent working and accommodation conditions.
U4U AGRI- Tomas Garcia-Azcarate and Kim Slama 23/07/2014
DG AGRI : movings
DG AGRI Move: Taking account of staff
The recent negotiations on the EU budget have led to a reduction not only in the Commission’s staff costs but also in its office space. By 2023, the total office space is due to be cut by 8%, i.e. more than the number of posts cut (5%).
The DG AGRI has not been spared, but its reduction in office space will be even more rapid. The space calculated by the OIB – tasked with calculating and re-allocating office space – has to be freed up by the end of 2015!
Why this haste? Because independently of the scheduled reduction, the OIB has not been able to rent in time the buildings needed to accommodate those colleagues who occupy office space under leases expiring in 2014 and, accordingly, need to be accommodated. It is the AGRI staff who are paying the price of this error, at least in part.
To calculate the office space to be freed up, the OIB has decided to treat the minimum number of square metres specified in the Housing Conditions Manual [HCM] as the maximum number of square metres to which anyone is entitled. By applying the same rule to all the Commission’s buildings in Brussels, injustices are being created: 1m² of a recent building, which has been ergonomically designed to meet modern work needs and optimise fully each m², is not equal to the 1m² of a building which is more than 30 years old and has an obsolete structure, such as ours. It is immediately apparent from a quick visit of the various buildings that not everyone is in the same boat, even with the same number of m².
At a time when the latest reform has made cuts everywhere, including in salaries, careers and rights, this rush to accommodate us in confined spaces, which are not only smaller but also inconvenient and sometimes inhospitable, has been taken badly by DG AGRI staff.
U4U AGRI has decided to launch a petition among AGRI staff. This petition will be transmitted to the OIB, the DG HR from which the OIB takes its orders and to the Sefkovic cabinet which in turn gives orders to HR.
We want measures that will reduce the pressure which will inevitably be felt by everyone as a result of longer working hours in confined spaces. Our demands are as follows:
- the minimum space provided for in the MHC must not become the maximum applicable;
- the planned moves must not be implemented without taking account of the specific, exceptional timetable of our DG for the approval, in particular, of the new rural development programmes in which almost the WHOLE of the DG is involved;
- the OIB must implement its plan with moderation, in accordance with the characteristics of each building, and as scheduled (2023!).
- all colleagues who so wish must be able to opt for teleworking provided that this is compatible with the unit’s activity;
- in accordance with the principles agreed during the flexitime negotiations, individual “coretimes” should be established for those colleagues who request them.
U4U AGRI- Tomas Garcia-Azcarate and Kim Slama
U4U meets the staff on “Staff cuts in DG RTD : what are the next steps?”
When the Commission adopted Horizon 2020, the new framework programme for research and Technological Development, it also accepted to manage the 77 billions euros of this programme in a different way. The basic idea was to hive off the management of the research budget either to executive agencies or to various specialised bodies such as Joint Technology Initiatives or other public-private or public-public organisations. The advantage of this radical move would be :
1) to offer a more economical and leaner management of the European research budgets,
2) to enable DG RTD to concentrate on its policy-making.
Since the entry into force of H2020 on 1 January 2014, a number of important changes have actually taken place with in particular a large decentralisation of management towards the Executive Agencies. However, the actual scope and pace of this change remains rather undefined.
- On the one hand, there are constant pressures for staff cuts which affect the stability and the continuity of the services, in particular in their efforts to valorise what has negatively been called “FP7 legacy”. Given the huge FP7 budgets still being implemented, the issue of the sound management of existing project portfolios remains acute in a context of giving value for money to the European taxpayer.
- On the other hand, the actual definition of the research policy for DG RTD still remains rather vague. What policy activities will be kept in DG RTD in a year time is difficult to predict: will DG RTD concentrate on the European research Area and innovation? Will it still do policymaking in areas like health or transport or will these policymaking areas been moved, too, to policy DGs such as SANCO or MOVE?
These two evolutions will condition the future of DG RTD and will determine how DG RTD will look like as a policy DG. What is clear is that a policy DG organised around rather restricted policies like the European research Area and, possibly, innovation will see its staff numbers melt radically. But how and when?
In order to clarify the debate on these questions, U4U has invited the staff to a general meeting on 20 November 2014.
Post meeting paper: What future for DG RTD? An analysis by U4U
DG RTD: Downsizing during major reorganisations (June 2017)
DG RTD: major restructuring
Dear U4U colleagues from DG RTD and the Executive Agencies
We are on the verge of major changes in the Commission’s research area. According to our information, DG RTD, which has around 1,200 statutory staff, will be reduced to a maximum of 900. These changes are correlated with the adoption of the research budget, which is below the level of the Commission’s proposal (MFF). They are accompanied by the restructuring of the six agencies responsible for implementing EU programmes.
This major restructuring will see the closure of the CHAFEA agency and the creation of the EIC for Innovation. According to our information, it seems that the resources made available will not necessarily match the Commission’s expectations. As far as DG RTD is concerned, some of the staff will be assigned to the agencies and will monitor the parts of the Horizon programme that are currently still managed within the Commission services:
- Health (operational and financial)
- Digital Industry and Space – NMBP (operational and financial)
- Infrastructure (operational and financial)
- EIC (operational and financial)
- H2020 legacy
DG RTD has launched a survey of colleagues working in the units managing the research programme, to find out who would like to move to the agency, whether they are officials, temporary staff or contract staff. At this stage, the exact number of people involved is not known.
A similar survey has also been sent to colleagues in the executive agencies who are likely to be transferred to other agencies. It would appear that these colleagues would be free to accept or refuse, but with the risk of losing their jobs if they refused, which is not acceptable.
If you are concerned, please make sure you express your choices clearly, as they will be one of the factors taken into account in the rest of the process. In the second stage, you will be sent a proposal. You always have the option of formally refusing it if it does not meet your expectations. U4U will be at your side in the event of any difficulties arising from this transfer.
In addition, this new assignment to the agencies will be accompanied by a reorganisation of DG RTD and probably the adoption of a new organisation chart. Once again, internal transfers will be the consequence of this change. Whether you are a head of unit, a civil servant or an agent, U4U will be at your side in case your wishes have not been taken into account.
Finally, it is likely that some DG RTD staff will be reassigned to other Commission departments. Here again, our organisation will be on hand to help you in the event of unwanted mobility.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Georges Vlandas, President
Restructuring of DG RTD
Letter from U4U sent to the Director General on 27/07/2014
Further to our telephone conversation, I can confirm that U4U has been alerted for several weeks about the real difficulties of outsourcing and transferring programme management to the implementing agencies.
We have been informed of the worrying turn of events in the restructuring of DG RTD’s directorates B and C, which are bearing a large part of the staff offsetting for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Colleagues from DG RTD consider that this situation is very worrying for the ERA and for the future of programmes such as International Cooperation, Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), and Science with and for Society (SwafS). In particular, these last two programmes have been subject to staff cuts for several years: until 2010 they were managed by an entire Directorate (ex-Directorate L), previously by two Directorates. Since the end of 2010, this directorate has been abolished and the two programmes are now managed by just two units. It now appears that these two units, which have already been affected by last December’s reorganisation, are going to lose yet more staff.
It seems clear that this situation can only be seen as damaging in political terms for our institution. At a time when the Commission is demonstrating its desire to work for the benefit of Europe’s citizens, and when the H2020 programme has been largely geared towards solving societal challenges, it is paradoxical to weaken programmes whose aim is to better link research with citizens and society in general.
Like many other external stakeholders, our colleagues are concerned about the reduction of the SSH programme to mere mainstreaming in the Horizon 2020 framework programme. As the first work programme shows, the mainstreaming of SSH, despite the efforts of our colleagues, is not satisfactory and will not be able to meet the needs of research in areas such as employment, social exclusion, the Union’s external action or education, among others, which are completely absent from the ‘mainstreaming’.
The clearly stated intention to continue to focus restructuring efforts on these programmes gives rise to fears of a loss of memory and competence in this area, already amplified by the massive use of contract staff, which is by definition precarious.
Furthermore, the transfer to the REA agency of two programmes that are essential for the governance of the European Research Area (ERA) and, more generally, research and innovation, seems to us to contradict the objective of making DG RTD a political Directorate General.
Consequently, after organising a wider exchange of views with the staff of the DG, I would like to meet you to take stock of the situation and to see what solutions would make it possible to reassure colleagues that the Commission’s capacity in the field of social sciences and relations with society, as well as international cooperation, will be preserved; but also to safeguard the future of colleagues, who are very concerned about their personal future but also that of their activities, to which they are deeply committed.
U4U regrets that staff are not more involved in the management of a change that affects them first and foremost. As we mentioned in our telephone conversation, a debate could be organised together to remedy this situation.
Finally, I would like to inform you that I intend to report on my approach to my colleagues who are members of our union, and even to some of the colleagues concerned.
Thank you for your time,
DG RTD: together, let’s defend our working conditions and our professional dignity!
Article on the management of research policy (May 2014)
DG RTD’s Executive Staff announce in their “management” seminars that they need the support of all DG RTD staff, but in fact they are not seeking this support by allowing unprofessional practices to develop, particularly within the Directorate in charge of resources.
For the past week, U4U’s “contact persons” at RTD have been receiving daily emails from numerous departmental colleagues complaining about the way they are being treated during the current reorganisation. To sum up
1) The reorganisation, which has been inexplicably delayed several times, is being implemented in such conditions that staff are being ordered to accept moves without explanation;
2) Unit R1 is acting in breach of the Commission’s mobility principles, which require the agreement of the staff concerned (even if they are contract staff) and of the department to which they are moving, on the basis of job descriptions;
3) Many DG RTD staff feel mistreated and are being presented with a fait accompli of decisions taken by Director Maive Rute, without any consultation or consideration of the staff’s skills.
This state of affairs is particularly regrettable in a DG which had acquired very useful and recognised experience in the field of listening rooms, but which seems to have been completely forgotten by its hierarchy. Moreover, if we think of “outsourcing”, it is clear that the current situation is a particularly worrying precedent.
Such a state of affairs is unacceptable. This is why U4U has asked to be received very quickly by the management of DG RTD to discuss its intentions with regard to personnel management in this DG.
U4U / RTD (17/12/2013)