No Xy Lo

industrial action, special edition

n°26 - 13 novembre 2012


• éditorial : Editorial: What action should we take after 8 November and how?
• 14 November 2012: European Day of Action and Solidarity for jobs and solidarity in Europe
• State of play regarding the Financial Perspectives for 2013-2020
• Open letter to Mr Silva Rodriguez, Director-General of DG AGRI: Call for participatory staff management
• Open letter to Mr Gregory Paulger, DG of DG COMM: Call for transparent staff management
• U4U defends you –Rights of spouses of European civil servants if they are on leave on personal grounds (CCP)
• Presidency of the CLP: abuse of position and breach of trust, confusion of roles!
• Strike: why such virulent attacks?

Editorial: What action should we take after 8 November?

The various gatherings and general assemblies organised on 7 and 8 November at the Commission, the Parliament, the Council, and in other institutions and locations, demonstrated that staff members are ready to act in different forms, even against a backdrop of trade union tensions, to defend the European civil service and the need for an adequate European budget to tackle the current challenges.

The strike on 8 November saw the involvement of almost all Council staff. At the Commission, the situation was very different: according to our information, on average 5% of staff stopped work. More than 1200 people responded to our call for a united gathering on 8 November at the Berlaymont plaza. At the European Parliament in Brussels, a GA in support of the public service attracted more than 850 colleagues on 7 November.

The mobilisation of staff, in various forms, is forcing the trade unions to assume their responsibilities and work together, despite their real or imagined differences. This message of unity is supported by staff members who want us to work together to organise collective, inter-institutional action. This is the only way of lending the necessary credibility to our fight. We must take our battle forward together in order to stand firm against the attacks on the European civil service and to defend an EU budget capable of helping Europe to emerge from the crisis into which it has been plunged.

R&D, Conf SFE-CISL, SFIE, FFPE, U4U/USHU/RS have proposed a meeting to the other trade unions of all the institutions in order to:
- assess the various actions organised;
- demonstrate our solidarity with European workers by participating in the demonstrations of 14 November wherever the institutions are represented in the European Union;
- define the next joint inter-institutional mobilisation, including its form and content, and to agree on a date in order to send a very strong signal of our dissatisfaction to the Council.

14 November 2012: European Day of Action and Solidarity for jobs and solidarity in Europe

No to austerity for citizens!

The Cypriot Presidency has proposed to slash 50 billion euros from the financial framework for 2014-20 as put forward by the Commission. Some Member States want an even more unrealistic reduction.

The Commission and the EP have clearly indicated that they do not support this counter-proposal of drastic cuts; they consider that, during this period of crisis, the European budget should "be a tool for investment in growth and jobs". We agree with this objective but the Commission’s proposal is, in itself, insufficient for achieving it.

An austerity Europe is not the Europe that we want for European citizens

The Council’s proposed budget is not the budget that Europe needs.

We want European growth policies that promote job creation, development, the necessary energy transition and solidarity. We want policies that serve the needs of citizens. We want a strong, independent, permanent and competent European civil service which can serve the needs of all its citizens.

Join us on 14 November to protest against austerity for citizens and against policies and budgets which oppress citizens and take away their hope.

Participate in the inter-union gathering on 14 November, from 12:00 to 13:00 at Berlaymont.

Join us in demonstrating our solidarity with European workers and our support for a Europe based on solidarity and progress.

State of play regarding the Financial Perspectives for 2013-2020

The Cypriot Presidency’s proposal falls 50 billion euros below the previous period and, of course, below that of the Commission (1033 billion euros) which proposed an increase of 5% in comparison with the previous programming period. The Cypriot Presidency wants to apply the cuts across all areas, which will mean a reduction of 3 billion euros for section 5, i.e. salaries, schools and operating expenses.

The net contributor Member States, including F, UK and D, have rejected the Commission’s proposal and the Commission has rejected the Presidency’s proposal.

The British Prime Minister has lost a parliamentary vote on the European budget. His government had proposed to freeze the European budget but the Eurosceptics joined forces with Labour MPs to call for a reduction in the European budget.

All this does not bode well for the summit of 22-23 November. We need to mobilise our forces and work together on an inter-institutional basis.

Open letter to Mr Silva Rodriguez, Director-General of DG AGRI: call for participatory staff management

Dear Director-General,

In the light of discussions on forthcoming financial prospects, the Commission has sought to reduce its staff levels. You recently sent us a letter informing us of the number of jobs to be shed at AGRI and the proposed timetable.

U4U DG AGRI is convinced that this planned restructuring, which we dispute, can only be implemented if accompanied by a long-term vision of the role of our Directorate-General, in particular in the implementation of the CAP after 2013.

Eliminating positions as and when individuals leave them does not constitute a vision. Silence surrounding the way in which we are going to be redeployed, either within the DG or elsewhere, our future priorities, allocation of resources and means needed to ensure the continuity and quality of our tasks and responsibilities is creating considerable uncertainty and fuelling further concerns and questions.

Your staff members are not only responsible, motivated adults, but also your partner: U4U DG AGRI would like to request that you meet with all the colleagues of our DG as soon as possible, and in any event no later than January 2013, in order to explain your vision and proposals to them. Transparency and trust can do no harm...

Thank you for in advance for being attentive to our concerns.

U4U contacts at DG AGRI: Kim Slama and Tomas Garcia Azcárate

Open letter to Mr Gregory Paulger, DG of DG COMM: call for transparent staff management

Dear Director-General,

Several colleagues have contacted U4U about the conditions under which colleagues have been appointed then recalled from the Commission’s representations in Member States.

On the basis of the information gathered, it appears that decisions regarding both appointments within representations and those concerning the return of the officials in question are not based on clear, objective criteria. This gives rise to misunderstandings among staff: the regulatory time limits established by the College for staff rotation in representations are not always respected, which prevents officials benefiting from the rights stipulated in the said rules. Moreover, in some cases the officials are not always fully informed of the reasons why they have been recalled or transferred.

In too many cases, colleagues returning from a posting to a representation are left to their own devices, without being allocated precise tasks. Above all this situation, which may persist for a considerable time, does not recognise an individual’s successful career path.

In those cases which have been reported to us, the redeployment of officials from the representations to the Commission’s services in Brussels does not comply with the principle of efficient management of the Commission’s human resources: these officials are stuck in temporary “postings” for months on end. Furthermore, the positions they fill are often lacking in substance and, therefore, are incompatible with the competences acquired during their posting but also with their career path as a whole. They are perceived as being an insult to the official’s service record.

Consequently, this represents a real waste of resources and a misguided approach to managing the careers of officials. It is also important to emphasise the human dimension of these situations where officials are effectively sidelined, and which are, quite rightly, perceived as an unfair punishment and a lack of respect.

Such situations are undesirable for our institution and its staff. We would like to organise a meeting with you to try and find a way of correcting these situations together through better communication, greater transparency and efficient supervision and support, accompanied by the respect owed to all those officials who have not done anything wrong.

We look forward to meeting you.
Yours faithfully,
Georges VLANDAS//President of U4U

Did you know?

According to the 2012 report published by DG HR, the number of staff working for the Commission included, at the end of 2011, 32,034 statutory staff and approximately 1,070 non-statutory staff. After several years of gradual increase within the framework of expansion and new competences being attributed by the treaties, the number of statutory staff remains the same in 2011. This is in line with the Commission’s “zero increase” policy.

The report praises the results of this policy which, for the period 2010-2012, means that the Commission is the institution with the smallest staff increase: 18% versus 34% for the other institutions.

Consumer prices varied between 51% of the EU average in Bulgaria and 142% in Denmark (EU27=100)

In 2011, the price levels of consumer goods and services varied considerably from one Member State to another. Denmark (142%) had the highest prices, followed by Sweden (128%), Finland (125%) and Luxembourg (122%). Price levels in Ireland (117%), Belgium (112%) and France (111%) were between 10% and 20% higher than the EU27 average, while prices were up to 10% higher than the average in the Netherlands (108%), Austria (107%), Germany and Italy (103% each) and the United Kingdom (102%).

Spain (97%) and Greece (95%) were just below the average, while price levels in Cyprus (89%), Portugal (87%) and Slovenia (84%) were between 10% and 20% below the average. Price levels were between 20% and 30% below the average in Estonia (79%), Malta (78%), the Czech Republic (77%), Latvia (74%) and Slovakia (72%), while price levels were between 30% and 40% below the average in Lithuania (66%) and Hungary (64%) as well as in Poland and Romania (60% each). The lowest price levels were recorded in Bulgaria (51%).

U4U defends your rights – Rights of spouses of European officials when they are on CCP

Good news for officials whose spouse is also a European official and who is on leave on personal grounds.

This situation came to light in connection with annual travel payments. The PMO had decided that it would no longer pay the travel expenses of the spouses of European officials on CCP. PMO thus penalised spouses who were also officials compared with spouses who were not officials. Fortunately, the decision had no retroactive effect.

The next step might have been to derive those spouses who are also European officials on CCP of all medical cover. With the support of our legal adviser, Maitre Louis, one of our members submitted a claim based on article 90. Common sense prevailed and following careful analysis of the case, the Director-General of Human Resources, Mme Souka, upheld our colleague’s claim.

U4U wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate DG HR on this wise decision and invites all officials who are in a similar situation to contact PMO.

Presidency of the CLP: abuse of position and breach of trust, confusion of roles !!

It is necessary to emphasise our disapproval of the message in favour of the strike disseminated by the Presidency of the CLP to all staff during preparations for the strike of 8 November, whereas there was no consensus about this between the various trade unions. In addition, in the same message, the Presidency of the CLP denigrated all those colleagues who did not intend to go on strike on 8 November.

It is not within the prerogatives of the CLP to circulate messages of this kind or to comment on initiatives that are the responsibility of the trade unions and staff associations. Similarly, it is not for the CLP to give its view on a strike based on a text which has not been approved by our elected representatives.

This is undoubtedly a serious management error by the CLP.

This is highly regrettable, especially as part of the wording of this message is insulting to some of the staff whom the elected representatives represent together. It is nothing short of a breach of trust.

U4U has requested that an item should be added to the agenda of the next plenary meeting of the Local Staff Committee, as the basis for a discussion on the serious issue explained above, which follows a series of difficulties encountered since the constitutive assembly.

Strike: why such virulent attacks?

As you may have realised, some trade unions have called for strike action while others have not.

U4U had publicly proposed to the trade unions and staff associations to call a strike on 14 November 2012, to demonstrate the solidarity of the staff at the institutions against the austerity and recession policies imposed by the Member States, and which are also affecting the European civil service. All the trade unions rejected that date. Some of the trade unions - US, PLUS, G-24 –called for a strike on 8 November, the Council strike date, but without leaving any other possibility for the other trade unions and staff associations which, at the time, found that date too premature, in particular in view of a collective inter-institutional action.

The trade unions and staff associations which proposed the strike – their legitimate right – sent two exceptionally virulent messages accusing the other trade unions of dividing staff while playing power politics.

In fact, these organisations refused to take part in the inter-union discussions and negotiations, which would have made it possible to adopt a united front against austerity policies in Europe. They imposed the date of 8 November as a diktat.

Is this an effective and ethical way of defending staff?

This attitude weakens the trade union movement and has forced the Deputy DHG of the DG HR to intervene to calm people down.

U4U offers these training sessions in Brussels in English:

Preparation for AST pre-selection tests (access tests) containing these subjects and registration here:

Preparation techniques for the exams and how to handle stress 30 November 2012: 9.30 to 12.30 a.m
Accuracy and precision + Prioritising and organising 30 November 2012: 2 5 p.m

Éditeur: Georges Vlandas
Rédactrice en chef : B. Thomas
Comité de Rédaction: J.-P. Soyer, F. Andreone, R. Marquez García,
P. Clairet, A. Islamaj, S. Vlandas, A. Hubrecht

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