EN version herebelow
Ni avec la représentation du personnel, ni avec les organisations syndicales, et cela est révélé encore une fois pendant la crise que nous traversons. Voyez plutôt 2 exemples ci-après, celui du télétravail et des interprètes de conférence.
Parlement européen : télétravail : les propositions inadmissibles de l’administration
Dans le cadre du confinement décidé en réponse à la pandémie COVID 19, l’administration vient de prendre une série de mesures qui concernent le personnel sans même le consulter à travers ses organes de représentation.
Le 31 mars, dans une note GEDA (2020) 11843, Klaus Welle a proposé, aux personnes volontaires qui souhaitaient retourner dans leur Etat membre le temps du confinement, une mesure de télétravail à temps partiel à 75%, avec un salaire réduit à 75% et la suppression de la prime d’expatriation.
On peut questionner la limitation (unilatérale) de l’activité à 75%. En revanche, la suppression de la prime d’expatriation peut être considérée comme illégale dans les conditions actuelles car le personnel n’est pas affecté dans son Etat membre. C’est une situation exceptionnellement critique qui oblige certains collègues à rentrer chez eux. Ce n’est pas un changement d’affectation.
Dans ce même courrier, Klaus Welle indique que par analogie, cette mesure de télétravail à temps partiel s’appliquait aussi aux quelques personnes en congés quand le confinement a démarré et qui n’ont pas pu rentrer, pour diverses raisons toutes liées à un cas de force majeur.
U4U a immédiatement réagi et demandé, dans une lettre ouverte adressée au secrétaire général, et dans un tract conjoint avec d’autres organisations syndicales, de revoir cette proposition et de restaurer la prime d’expatriation dans les plus brefs délais.
La prime d’expatriation est un droit fixé par le recrutement sur un lieu d’affectation donné. Dans le cas du confinement momentané, le lieu d’affectation ne change pas, pas plus qu’il ne change quand on prend ses congés (par analogie) pour passer ses vacances dans sa famille (et que l’on perçoit toujours sa prime).
Quant au nombre d’heures qu’un collègue peut prester du lieu où il est confiné, c’est à lui de le déterminer, et non à l’administration de le lui imposer, d’autant que beaucoup peuvent prester 100%.
U4U a aussi demandé que pour les collègues piégés par des mesures de confinement à l’étranger, la décision de l’administration ne s’applique pas brutalement et sans nuance, mais au cas par cas, en fonction des conditions de chacun.
Le Parlement a aussi essayé d’appliquer cette mesure aux APA (assistants parlementaires) mais plusieurs groupes politiques ont déjà fait savoir qu’ils n’en acceptaient pas le principe et ne l’appliqueraient pas. A l’heure où toutes les institutions font montre de diligence envers leur personnel confronté à une situation inédite qui n’est pas de son fait, le Parlement lui s’adresse à son personnel de manière plutôt répressive
Cette mesure de piètre économie puisqu’elle ne concerne qu’une poignée de collègues, est illégale et révèle un certain état d’esprit à l’endroit du personnel dont on espère que cette bourde sera l’ultime expression.
The European Parliament is not really used to dialogue with staff representation, nor with trade union organisations. This is revealed once again during the crisis we are going through.
European Parliament: telework: the administration's unacceptable proposals
Within the framework of the containment decided in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, the administration has just taken a series of measures that concern the staff without even consulting them through their representative bodies.
On 31 March, in a GEDA (2020) 11843 note, Klaus Welle proposed, for those volunteers who wished to return to their Member State for the time of confinement, a measure of part-time teleworking at 75%, with a salary reduced to 75% and the abolition of the expatriation allowance.
The (unilateral) limitation of activity to 75% is questionable. On the other hand, the abolition of the expatriation allowance may be considered illegal under the present conditions because staff are not assigned to their Member State. This is an exceptionally critical situation which forces some colleagues to return home. It is not a change of assignment.
In the same letter, Klaus Welle states that, by analogy, this measure of part-time teleworking also applied to the few people on leave when the confinement started and who were unable to return, for various reasons all linked to a case of force majeure.
U4U reacted immediately and requested, in an open letter to the Secretary General, and in a joint leaflet with other trade union organisations, to review this proposal and to restore the expatriation allowance immediatly.
The expatriation allowance is a right settled by a recruitment (formally a nomination) in a given place of employment (cf : annex VII, section 2, art.4) . In the case of a temporary containment, the place of employment does not change, nor does this latter change, for instance, when one takes leave to spend holidays with one's family. Suspending this allowance is illegal.
As for the number of hours that a colleague can work from the place where he or she is contained, it is up to him or her to determine that number, and not to the administration to impose it, especially when one can work 100%.
U4U also requested that for colleagues trapped by containment measures abroad, the administration's decision should not be applied brutally and without nuance, but on a case-by-case basis, depending on each person's conditions.
The Parliament has also tried to apply this measure to APAs (parliamentary assistants) but several political groups have already indicated that they do not accept the principle and will not apply it. At a time when all the institutions are showing diligence towards their staff faced with a new situation which is not of its making, Parliament is addressing its staff in a rather repressive manner.
This absurd cost-saving measure, since it affects only a handful of colleagues, reveals a certain state of mind with regard to staff, which we hope will be its ultimate expression.
Pour signer cette pétition, envoyez un e-mail à: To sign this petition, send an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Several institutions have recourse to a pool of freelance interpreters, a flexible and available workforce which must, for example, replace absent statutory interpreters at short notice. These interpreters have a special status. The majority of them have only our institutions as employers via long contracts which guarantee a minimum of services over the long term, and short contracts according to last-minute needs), and pay their taxes to the Community budget. In other words, they are not taxpayers in their Member State of origin, nor in their Member State of residence, since a large proportion of them have established themselves in Belgium or Luxembourg, where they provide services. This does not make them eligible for any unemployment or aid such as those that the Member States are putting in place for their various economic players (employees, SMEs, self-employed, etc.) affected by the crisis caused by the pandemic.
U4U has therefore written an open letter to all the Presidents of the concerned institutions as well as to MEPs and fostered an inter-union response to draw attention to the plight of these colleagues, whose short contracts have been terminated every beginning of the week since the beginning of the pandemic, and whose long contracts have been terminated recently as well. These colleagues, deprived of contracts, find themselves without resources and without the support of national aid mechanisms.
Like the Member States, our institutions in general, and Parliament in particular, must reflect on measures to enable these regular colleagues to hold on economically until work resumes. This crisis shows us how much the lack of an economic safety net for a considerable number of citizens invites us to think about new protection mechanisms.
Parlement européen : le sort préoccupant des interprètes free-lance de conférences
Plusieurs institutions ont recours à un pool d’interprètes free-lance, une main d’œuvre flexible et disponible qui doit, par exemple, remplacer au pied lever les interprètes statutaires absents. Ces interprètes ont un statut particulier. La majorité d’entre eux n’ont que nos institutions comme employeurs (via des contrats longs qui garantissent un minimum de prestations sur le long terme, et des contrats courts en fonction des besoins de dernière minute), et acquittent leurs impôts au budget communautaire. Autrement dit, ils ne sont pas contribuables dans leur état membre d’origine, ni dans leur état membre de résidence, puisqu’une grande partie s’est établie en Belgique ou au Luxembourg où ils prestent. Cela ne les rend éligible à aucun chômage ni à aucune aide comme celles que les Etats membres sont en train de mettre en place pour leurs différents acteurs économiques (salariés, PME, indépendants, etc.) touchés par la crise entraînée par la pandémie.
U4U a donc écrit une lettre ouverte à tous les présidents des institutions concernées ainsi qu’aux députés européens et a favorisé une riposte intersyndicale (voir tract intersyndical) pour attirer l’attention sur le sort de ces collègues, dont les contrats courts sont dénoncés chaque début de semaine depuis le début de la pandémie, et dont les contrats longs l’ont été récemment également. Ces collègues, privés de contrats, se retrouvent sans ressources et sans le soutien des mécanismes d’aide nationaux.
A l’instar des Etats membres, nos institutions en général et le Parlement, en particulier, doivent réfléchir à des mesures qui permettent à ces collègues réguliers de tenir économiquement jusqu’à ce que le travail reprenne son cours. Cette crise nous révèle combien l’absence de filet de sécurité économique pour un nombre considérable de citoyens invite à réfléchir à de nouveaux mécanismes de protection.
Open letter from the DELINT
On April 4th, the Staff Interpreters' Delegation at the European Parliament (DELINT) wrote you an Open Letter concerning the cancellation of the long-term contracts of our ACI (freelance interpreters) colleagues. We expressed our solidarity with our colleagues and called "upon DG LINC to fulfill its duty of care towards ACI colleagues" and "for discussions to start immediately between ACI representatives and all EU institutions in order to ensure a fair level of support for ACI colleagues, whether they are beneficiaries of long term contracts or not, during this difficult time."
A few meetings then took place between DG LINC and DG SCIC Management on one side, and the AIIC Negotiating Delegation on the other, and we hoped that a fair measure of support would be found.
On May 26th, however, we found out with renewed consternation that DG LINC and DG SCIC had put an end to the dialogue and issued a unilateral offer, published on EpiWeb with the title "Outline of the contract-based mitigating measure for freelance interpreters elaborated by DG SCIC and DG LINC".
The 'measure' found is to grant ACI colleagues "who had at least 40 contract days for the institutions in one of the past three years" "a special type of contracts for which the payment will be made in advance while the assignment dates will be confirmed at a later stage, during the period between 1 June and 31 December 2020", amounting to a total of "three contract days for experienced freelance interpreters and four contract days for beginner freelance interpreters".
In essence, the institutions fell back to an offer which had already been rejected twice by the AIIC Negotiating Delegation, as it would only postpone, but in no way resolve the solvency problem ACI colleagues are facing: a loan of around 1300 euros paid in advance for services to be provided later. Their generosity, in fact, as one ACI colleague pointed out, amounts to only around 27 euros: the cost of the interest rate for the same loan being taken out from a bank. By way of comparison, at this particularly difficult juncture, even some of the less wealthy Member States of the European Union are putting in place support schemes for self-employed workers that are not only far more substantial in terms of funding, but also essentially constitute a one-off measure of solidarity with no strings attached. Indeed, the very next day, May 27th, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented to the European Parliament a recovery package of 750 billion euros to support an economy that 'leaves nobody behind'. It seems, however, that the EU institutions find it difficult to practice what they preach.
To call such an offer dismissive is only to scratch the surface of its indignity (it is ostensibly supposed to 'bridge the months of lower interpretation demand in June and July 2020', ignoring the fact that many ACI colleagues have seen their income drastically reduced since March), and it has been rightly and universally greeted with a mixture of outrage and disbelief by both ACI and staff interpreter colleagues, as the many comments on the SCICNet forum show (DG LINC, unfortunately, has not to this date considered fit to provide a public forum of expression to colleagues).
Moreover, in its communication, DG LINC announced 'If the COVID-19 crisis continues after the summer and the demand for interpretation remains low, DG LINC will consider offering freelance interpreters additional contracts for interpretation-related activities regarding new technologies, skills enhancement and training'. The official announcement of such a measure of testing 'new technologies' under the guise of solidarity towards our ACI colleagues is yet another example of circumventing both their and staff interpreters’ representatives, who have already expressed a very clear position on 'new technologies'. Indeed, there is currently no other relevant 'new technology' in the field of simultaneous interpretation than platforms such as Interactio, and it is precisely on testing 'full remote' interpretation (from home or another distant site) that the Director-General of DG LINC has kept insisting, from one language unit meeting to the next, in the last weeks. Therefore, there can be little doubt as to what is meant by 'new technologies'. These 'new technologies' are not compliant with the ISO standards for conference interpretation equipment, nor is their use regulated in any way, in terms of interpreters’ working conditions (i.e. health and safety at work, working hours etc.), confidentiality, liability etc., and DELINT, in its position sent to DG LINC management on April 30th, demanded to be involved, together with AIIC, from the earliest possible stages of planning any such testing. It appears that DG LINC Management is again choosing to ignore interpreters' representatives.
The AIIC Negotiating Delegation has already issued a protest letter denouncing the 'deliberate disregard for social dialogue' since the offer was presented as 'non-negotiable and would be presented to individual interpreters whatever their representatives may think or say'.
We again declare our full support for our ACI colleagues and the AIIC Negotiating Delegation, and call for DG LINC to immediately restore proper social dialogue and return to consultations with the AIIC Negotiating Delegation in order to find a common solution which is worthy of both the institution and the service provided by our ACI colleagues.
The Staff Interpreters' Delegation at the European Parliament (DELINT) 29 May 2020
Freelance interpreters being left behind - Letter to President Sassoli
We are now in the middle of the worst crisis the European Union has ever faced, and the European institutions are rightly calling for all measures to be taken so that the health crisis is not compounded by an economic crisis.
However, this is precisely what is happening to freelance interpreters who make up half of those currently going into the booth, at the risk of exposing themselves to Covid-19, in order to guarantee that plenary activity can continue in a multilingual environment as per the treaties.
Now, in the middle of a pandemic, the Directorate-General for Logistics, Interpretation and Conferences (DG LINC) of the Parliament has started cancelling contracts on a weekly yet systematic basis, invoking an article of the collective agreement applicable at the Parliament, which in ordinary circumstances has only been triggered on an exceptional basis (and with contract offers for other dates). However, this time it is being applied massively and systematically in these most extraordinary circumstances.
Ignoring social dialogue, no prior consultation was requested by DG LINC and no meeting took place prior to the unilateral decision to cancel contracts.
Instead, interpreter representatives and all other freelance interpreters were informed of this decision as it was already being implemented. DG LINC argued that they understood our situation and wanted to help but that they had no option but to assess the situation and cancel contracts on a weekly basis. They also explained that they would do their best to recruit again in the future.
However, it is clear that in the coming months, activity will be reduced to a minimum, which in effect means there will be virtually no work for freelance interpreters until at least September. Effectively, 50% of those who make multilingualism possible at the Parliament are being left behind for months.
As things stand, most would not be covered by national solidarity measures currently being envisaged in member states since these are based on national taxable income and many freelance interpreters at the Parliament work exclusively for the European Institutions and therefore pay tax on their income into the European Union budget.
Freelance interpreters have already agreed to go into the booth and to be flexible about the non-compliance of provisional arrangements with the standards that guarantee high-quality interpretation and protect our health. We want to make our contribution to Parliament’s activity.
As the Negotiating Delegation of Conference Interpreting Agents prepares to meet DG LINC in order to find a solution to the clear and present economic danger, we call on you to give DG LINC the flexibility to think out-of-the-box and to find a pragmatic form of solidarity so that we are not left behind.
EPPD - European Parliament Professional Delegation of freelance interpreters
6 April 2020
Modification pour la durée de la pandémie des règles régissant le personnel de l'Institution:
Article EURACTIV : Les interprètes européens laissés pour compte face à la pandémie
Carmen Ortega Montero