|No Xy Lo
21 – 2 April 2012
EDITO: DISPUTES, CONTROVERSIES AND POLEMICS
In our hyper-mediatised society, one cannot have an objective and constructive debate in all tranquillity any more, it seems. To start unbridled research of a conflict, an incident and clash (usually deliberately planned beforehand) almost becomes an imperative for anybody who wants to expose his ideas and commitments.
The tyranny of 'needed controversy' has an attacking impact on the debate on ideas, the pedagogical means applied and sincere convictions, in the background. Facing this microcosmic dictate, the analysis of concepts and their history provides us with some salutary backlash.
The etymological dispute is nothing but a serene confrontation of ideas, derived from Latin disputare (examine, discuss). In medieval scholastics, the disputatio was - together with the lectio - one of the fundamental methods of teaching and research.
This disputatio was an oral debate, normally in front of an audience and sometimes in public, which took place in several steps, codified by a dialectic scheme: the questio formulated by the master, the objections brought forward by an opponens, the counter-arguments presented by a respondens. Once the arguments were all exhausted, the master proposed an argumented synthesis, the determinatio.
The term disputatio will more and more design the subjects of theology, first between Jews and Christians, then during the time of reformation.
The controversy is at its origin also peaceful being accepted as "disputed discussion, a contest of an opinion, a problem, a phenomenon or a fact". This is why for Cicero a res controversa is a question, a point in question.
But in Latin, controversia (contra and versus, the direction) also means a litigation. It suggests to be 'turned against' an idea or a person, an actually accomplished opposition. And so in theology, once again, the controversy becomes important for the issues of the doctrine.
Ultimately, it is doubtless the polemic, derived from the Greek polemos (the war), which marks the most aggressive stage of the debate.
The essence of the polemic first and foremost resides in its etymology: it is a passionate fight - if not war - by words, where the arms tend to be the depraved rhetoric, personal attack, disrepute, calumny, insult, denigration, manipulation, falsification, bad faith, rumour, etc.
The polemic discourse is paradox: if the interlocutors have to "work together" in order to discuss and to trigger a debate, the contents have to create an antagonism, a fight or even a destruction of the truth.
In this case, the exchange is addressed to a third party, an indirect address, taken aside and exploited by the interlocutors. This is called "monstrative character" of the polemic, whose privileged support are naturally the media. The specificity of the polemic in the media is not only the contents of the debate, but rather its format of communication.
For civilized debate we should therefore prefer the disputatio, or perhaps even the controversia, to the polemic. The confrontation of ideas becomes more noble with respect, pedagogy and truth. The force of the reason cannot be belittled by the reason of force.
And let our professional advocates know that "a polemist is amusing till twenty, tolerable till thirty, harassing till almost fifty and then just obscene" (Georges Bernanos).
THE METHOD: THE COUNCIL IS ASKING FOR AN EXCEPTION CLAUSE AGAIN!
The Council's Staff Regulation group asked the CoRePer to put in the agenda of the next Council as a point A the launching of the exception clause. Once more, the Member States refuse the 2012 indexation of our salaries and pensions.
In a timeframe of eight years, the Member States have thus asked three times (2009, 2011, 2012) the launching of the exception clause. In 2009, they refused the indexation thereby violating the Staff Regulation. The Commission took the case to court and won. In 2010, the Council decided to decrease our salaries. In 2011, the Member States also refused the Commission's proposal, and the case was brought to Court. In these conditions, what is the point of having a Method which is not followed every year? Is the Method dead?
How can the Commission react in this situation?
Either she considers that the Method applies and therefore refuses the application of the exception clause. She should in this case make a proposal for the indexation of salaries and go to court for the third time;
Or she considers that the exception clause should be applied and she should propose it. However, the adoption of this clause can only be done under the co-decision procedure and with the agreement of the European Parliament and after consultation with the staff representatives.
U4U will continue to keep you informed about the development of this file.
THREATS AGAINST EUROPEAN OFFICIALS
On Wednesday 21 March, threatening and filthy writing could be seen on the walls of the Schuman metro station: "Eurocrat, eat your tie, filth", "Officials, we shall throw you in the air", "Shitty (sic) Eurocrats", etc. The day before, an activists' group came to intimidate the users of the station singing songs with hateful verses against the European officials.
This incident should be seen in a socio-political context marked by the effects of the crisis, the social exasperation and a feeling of individual lack of power to face the forces of the market. It is also encouraged by campaigns pointing the figure to the European Civil Service, by warfare attacks against the Institutions and the European project, and by the way national politicians use Europe as the cover up for their unpopular decisions.
Following this incident(s), the Brussels Local Staff Committee called upon Ms Souka and asked for a strong and immediate reaction on behalf of the Commission and the College. In case of similar problems, colleagues should contact the security services of the Commission. It would be advisable though to be extra careful in order not to have a repetition of similar events. This is the reason why U4U will continue to support a systematic right to answer to all the campaigns aiming to disparage the European Civil Service. U4U will be especially attentive and will keep you informed.
RESTRUCTURING: U4U IS COMMITTED
Numerous DGs are, again, subject to the uncertainties of restructuring, often coupled with a reduction in staff and a move to another building (see below).
Alerted by colleagues – notably during our local, decentralised meetings - as well as by our contact points in the DGs, U4U decided to act with determination by engaging the concerned DGs with concrete questions.
U4U advocates closer dialogue, consultation and involvement of all colleagues in all DGs. Respecting and consulting staff are conditions to achieve successful reforms.
We invite you to contact the representatives of U4U in your DG to inform them of your difficulties and concerns.
IN DG AGRI
The restructuring of DG AGRI was announced as 'fait accompli', without explanation, logic, or aim. The fact that it never came to mind that staff could be affected by these actions continues to dismay and is a worry for the future.
Moreover, the principle of participation has not been respected, although we all agree that this is essential in any change process.
Soon, DG AGRI, like all DGs, will have to address the future of its staff, its redeployment, "screen" its missions and assess its future needs. U4U requests it does so by respecting and consulting all the staff involved who in turn will understand and accept the proposed changes.
Rather than just automatically propose staff reductions or link them to retirement related changes, the choices must be guided by political priorities set by the new common agricultural policy.
The staff of DG AGRI, as all Commission staff, deserves to be treated with respect and involved in decisions that affect them. Staff expects to be consulted beforehand, to be involved in the future that will be shaped by the upcoming changes.
Contacts points of U4U in DG AGRI: Tomás Garcia Azcarate and Kim Slama
On 16 February, DGT announced it is going to undergo a new restructuring
programme, following those of 2004 and 2006, while translation requests will not
diminish. DGT will have to surrender 50 posts by 2013. A presentation to all
staff was held on March 20.
The six directorates will remain, including 4 for translation (three procedural languages / 7 languages for the others). 25 posts of heads of units in translation and the ex 'antennae' and multilingual units will be suppressed. This will result in units with over 35 translators. 10 advisers to directors will be appointed.
Web translators will be placed under the authority of the head of department but will have to interact with the central web planning unit. The heads of department under the authority of the directors will also be the managers of "customers" in the DG. Translators will be expected to have greater specialized flexibility (flexibility under the authority of the head of DL). 'Trans-Ardennes ' transfers are not planned.
With this new form of specialization for the DL and for the entire structure, the language organization will be fractured (something that was laid out in 2006). Senior management is strengthened (directors and heads of language department).
Units reporting directly to the DG are partly alleviated and will take over some tasks of the "Multilingualism and Translation Studies" unit. The inclusion of translation in the Multilingualism policy is therefore likely to disappear.
All this must be in place by the beginning of January 2013, but decisions will be taken by the end of June.
Catherine Vieilledent-Montfort, U4U representative in DGT is at your disposal.
IN DG RTDI
After the last reorganization in January 2011, which affected 500 colleagues, rumours concerning further changes are circulating in DG RTDI.
This time, outsourcing is the key term in a context marked by an important move and a 5% reduction of staff.
The idea would be to create a new Executive Agency, and / or to broaden the power to the ERCEA and REA.
U4U analysed the situation in DG RTDI and made proposals to allow for a fair and effective reform: http://u4unity.eu/dochtm/TheLink_20.htm
Again, representatives of U4U in RTDI, Philippe Keraudren and Yves Dumont, are at your disposal.
MOVING: U4U COMMITS ITSELF
IN DG COMP
While, like in many other DGs, DG COMP is about to move to a new building, the Madou building in this case, many colleagues have voiced their concerns to us.
Most of them understand and support the logic that is behind the consolidation of services in one building. However, the fact remains that many fears are being expressed, in particular:
- Security issues: level of security in the floors that will be occupied by the DG COMP and the secure transport of documents;
- The total space, its allocation and planning: needs for archive space and IT servers; space allocated to meeting rooms; potential creation of "open space" offices;
-The restaurant facilities in the Madou building, the cost of this transfer, whichsome say could sum up to around 9 million euros, etc..
U4U has addressed these issues to M Alexander Italianer, Director General, and Ms Ms. Isabelle Bénoliel, Director of the "Resources" Directorate, with whom a meeting was held.
We will keep colleagues in DG COMP informed of the outcome of this meeting.
IN DG COMM
Concerns are also rising in DG COMM with the planned move to the Loi 56 building in June.
Colleagues have raised the following issues:
- absence of a canteen
in L56 and saturation of the one in Aidco
- lack of space, which would require AST officers to share offices
- intention to create "open space" offices
- noise coming from the Rue de la Loi
U4U will shortly meet the management of DG COMM and keep all concerned colleagues informed.
Feel free to contact the representatives of U4U in DG COMM Ruben Mohedano-Brèthes and Daniel Baruchel.
ELECTION RESULTS IN ISPRA AND SEVILLA
The Staff Committee election in the Ispra site was held on March 16.
The united list in which U4U participated together with R & D, CISL, FFPE and SFIE won the elections with 8 seats.
The remaining seats are distributed as follows: USI 6, Caterpillar 3, SE 2, Tao 2.
THE LONG FIGHT OF THE LANGUAGE TEACHERS... AND THEIR STUDENTS
After several months' tiresome fighting, the Central Staff Committee has expressed its support for the collective of the language teachers and addressed Ms. Souka with regard to the difficulties that they face while rendering their service to the personnel of the institutions.
A survey (http://www.europrofs.eu/documents/AnalyseSondage_16juin2011.pdf) made among a representative sample of teachers, had already clearly shown the problematic of their working conditions: wages particularly low, hours of preparation or correction unpaid, fines upon sick leave (118 Euro for one course missed), cramped placing during stand-by, lack of computers, printers and copiers, etc.
Half of the money paid by our institution goes into the pocket of the contractors, who pass on only the remaining half to the teachers. In this way, they have a net wage of 12 Euro per hour, without considering their status of - forced - independent employee.
U4U asks for the reintegration of language teaching into the European School of Administration. This measure would relieve the Union's budget and moreover grant that the administration is in conformity with the accounting rules of the European institutions.
CCP asks for an ad hoc meeting on this subject which would guarantee a constructive exchange on the future of this training, which is in the very heart of our professional skills.
U4U pays keen attention to the evolution of this dossier.
The list of the 192 selected candidates was finalised and published in administrative notices.
The milestones of the current certification exercise are, as follows:
·March 29th: meeting of the Joint Committee responsible for certification, to handle requests for appeals and establish a draft final list
·Mid-April: decision of the appointing authority and publication of the list of officials authorised to attend the necessary training in 2012
·May 30th: The European Administrative School starts the training courses
DID YOU KNOW?
Staff are sometimes unaware of the existence of an EU institutions' unemployment fund, provided for by the Staff Regulations.
This fund pays unemployment benefit to colleagues who are not officials (e.g. AT and AC) and whose contract expires. The fund is financed by unemployment contributions collected each month from the salary of each colleague (AT & AC).
It compensates colleagues out-of-contract, at the following rates:
60% of salary, for the first 12 months
45% of salary from month 13 to 24
30% of salary from month 25 to 36
The minimum of the monthly unemployment benefit after six months, is set at:
€1,337 for an AT
€1,002 for an AC
and €882 for a parliamentary assistant.
The unemployment fund's income amounted to 17.21 million Euro in 2011 and expenses to 18.76 million. The deficit is 1.55 million. The fund's reserve is estimated at 7.91 million, or approximately 5 months of operation.
DG HR has created a working group to find solutions to this deficit, but its final outcome is not yet available. The report on the fund for the years 2009-2010 is being adopted. After the green light from the Cabinet, an Inter-service Consultation is to be launched, before being sent to the Council and EP.
FOR UNITY – U4U
Editor: Georges Vlandas
Rédacteur en Chef / Secrétaire à la Communication: Rubén Mohedano-Brèthes
Comité de Rédaction: G. Vlandas, R. Mohedano-Brèthes, J.P. Soyer,
F. Andreone, R. Marquez García, Agim Islamaj, S. Vlandas, A. Hubrecht
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