Election time – Let’s cast an informed vote!
Alphabetical guide of Staff Representation and Social Dialogue at the EC
This special edition of G2004 Newsletter is devoted to colleagues in Brussels or working in delegations Outside the Union now called to vote for their local sections of the Staff Committee. It recollects however essential information for all other colleagues who have already voted this year (Ispra and Seville), will vote next year (Luxembourg) or later on (Karlsruhe, Geel, Petten, France), unless a new structure of the Staff Committee is put in place through a reform in preparation. It sheds light on several aspects of staff representation and social dialogue at the EU, and offers some reality checks for your better awareness.
Social dialogue rules governing how staff representatives interact with the administration are included in the Staff Regulations and several other documents (see links within items below). Putting it into a nutshell is not easy at all – therefore this attempt to provide orientation within the maze and make the best out of our active and passive right to vote. Items are in alphabetical, not in logical order!
A as Accountability
How staff representation should be accountable towards its constituency is not clearly defined so far. There is nothing like a yearly event where the elected staff representation could meet staff to present work done or collect real needs from participants. Some local sections produce a mandate report, that however finds little dissemination. OSPs instead have several ways to communicate their achievements to their members or all staff, this kind of activities peaking every three years during election time. This is a field with a wide margin of improvement. A nice practice was established by the Brussels staff representation run by G2004, which informs about its activity in a monthly newsletter providing short summary of it plenary sessions.
A as Alternate members
One peculiarity of staff representation at the EC is that members of all elected or appointed bodies like the Central Staff Committees and its local sections, or the Joint Committees, have alternates. Alternates are sometimes “attached” to their full members, in other cases considered in bulk or in a ranking. Alternates in fact double the number of elected and appointed. They are entitled to participate to the debates but to vote only in the absence of their own or another full member.
A as Appointments
After each election to the local sections of the Staff Committee a big battle starts among elected representatives and their organisations to distribute appointments from the local sections a) to the Central Staff Committee and b) to the Joint committees, both of local and central level. The battle is sometimes for relatively relevant positions, like Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Bureau members or members of particularly sensitive joint bodies like the Joint Committee of Section 2 of Annex II Staff Regulations (COPAR from French: Commission Paritaire) or the Joint Promotion Committees. Such fights lead to delays and paralyse staff representation work (it took several months after elections to the Brussels local sections 2012 and 2015 to finalise appointments). Fragmentation between several local sections and OSPs leads to a steady change of appointments and an overall distribution of seats and position not necessarily corresponding to the representativeness of all forces in place. Thanks to G2004 initiative, the new internal rules of procedure of the Brussels Staff Committee should now speed up these processes.
A as general Assembly, or general meeting of staff
One would expect that such a meeting would be the occasion for staff to learn about the achievements of staff representation during their mandates, or about hot topics at stake. Not at all! This specific meeting is provided for in Art. 1(2) if Annex II SR to lay down the conditions for election, if a Staff Committee is organized in local sections. So every three years each local section convenes a General Assembly to this purpose. Such assemblies have no quorum and in general a minimal participation from staff. This year DG HR contested the decisions taken by the General assembly Ispra/Seville and of Brussels, leaving the question open of which are the real powers and usefulness of such gatherings. Due to the distant location of delegations, their local section decides about election modalities via a referendum (last one held in 2008).
A as Associative
The “associative” branch of staff representation, as opposed to the “statutory” one, stems from the right to collective bargaining and action of Art. 28 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Art. 24b of Staff Regulations: Officials are entitled to exercise their right of association; they may in particular be members of trade unions or staff associations of European officials (OSPs). This branch of staff representation is in charge of negotiating with the administration changes to the Staff Regulations or General Implementing Provisions (GIPs) to it.
B as Bureau
Name of the group of members appointed to run the Central Staff Committee or its local sections: normally a Chair, one or more Vice-chairs, members and a secretary. It holds weekly of bi-weekly meetings, where sometimes guests are invited to present or clarify matters. Until recently, the Central Staff Committee had as many as a dozen Vice-Chairs which shows how everybody wants to be important. A pity that during the meetings only a few of them ever participate.
C as Campaigning
Staff Regulations and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants CEOS provide that representative bodies of staff must be renewed every three years. Therefore every three years elections are called and the inevitable campaigning is launched under the slogan: “A la guerre comme à la guerre“! Our mailboxes are then filled with all kind of electoral promises, videos, debates, comments about contenders and adversaries. Although a Code of Good Conduct exists mainly to establish how and where posters can be displayed, it can hardly cover all means used to collect consensus by staff, the latest original initiative being the distribution of honey pots, gadgets or tea/coffee vouchers of 1,5 EUR value to staff!
C as Categories
According to Art. 1(4) of Annex II SR, membership of each local section of the Staff committee shall represent all staff categories (AD, AST and Other agents). In the frenzy of further deteriorating working conditions of staff, in 2013 the legislators forgot to amend the relevant article in order to include the new AST/SC category. However, DG HR generously interprets that by analogy AST/SC are also entitled to be represented.
C as Chair
The most coveted position of any well respected staff representative! No matter how many staff you represent (from approx. 32 000 for the Central Staff Committee to less than 300 in Geel, Karlruhe or Petten), the most important thing in life is being called a Chair!
C as Central Staff Committee
The Central Staff Committee of the European Commission consists of 8 local sections which appoint its 41 members. The table below illustrates how many members are appointed by each section and its staff (HR figures 1/6/2018). Formally, a silent section still exists in the no longer existing working site of Culham. A long established dogma within staff representation wants that Brussels should have less than half of the seats, no matter if its staff counts for almost 70% of the total. It’s quite difficult to find any kind of proportionality in seat distribution among local sections, nor to guess on which how seats distribution was devised.
As you can see it takes more than 1 000 voters to elect one Central Staff Committee member in Brussels, but just half in Luxembourg and less than 300 in Ispra/Seville. The smallest local section called “France” represents all staff working on Commission sites located in that Member State, including the Representation in Paris. Staff working in all other Representations are instead included in the Brussels local section.
The remit of the Central Committee shall cover all questions of a general nature or questions that may concern one or more local sections. It shall coordinate the activities of the local sections in all areas within their purview.
The Central Staff Committee is the statutory body responsible for representing the interests of all staff of the Commission in all sites. The CSC advises and discusses with the Commission administration almost all issues related to the application of rules on careers, working conditions and social policy. These include inter alia recruitment, promotions, social policy, invalidity, discipline, incompetence, leave on personal grounds, sickness insurance, training, equal opportunities. So-called Joint Committees, bodies constituted by the administration and the staff committee in parity, deal with many of these issues. Currently, the General Secretary of the Central Staff Committee is a Generation 2004 member.
C as Constitution of the Staff Committee
Each local section must appoint its representative/s to the Central Staff Committee at its first meeting. As the Staff Regulations provide for, the Central Committee and the local sections shall, by an absolute majority of their respective members, each elect from their ranks a chairman, one or more vice-chairmen, members and a secretary (the Bureau). Once this has happened, the Staff Committee is constituted. Different election and appointment rules together with different election dates and sometimes surprising election results have made the constitution of the Staff Committee rather difficult during the last years.
C as Communication
Communication on Social Dialogue topics of interest to all or of parts of staff is as much fragmented as staff representation. Some information is made available by local sections of the Staff Committee, others by OSPs, other by DG HR on the intranet, which makes it quite difficult for staff to find its way in the maze. The battle to obtain an intranet page for the local section in Brussels took two years and a half. Another work in progress.
C as Concertation
The Framework agreement signed between the administration and the OSPs on the functioning of social dialogue at the EC includes several provisions, a.o. three levels of concertation of OSPs to be convened until an agreement is reached:
– administrative concertation: with the relevant Director and/or the manager in charge of social dialogue at DG HR;
– technical concertation: with the Director-General of DG HR;
– political concertation: with the Commissioner responsible for HR and administration.
C as Conciliation
As provided for by Art. 20 of the Framework agreement, in the event of persistent disagreement at political level, either the Commissioner or the signatory representative organisations may propose the opening of a conciliation procedure. The request by the OSPs for the opening of a conciliation procedure listing the items submitted for concertation, the opening of a cooling-off period during which the Commissioner shall report to the full Commission on the positions of all the parties or the convening of a conciliation meeting shall follow.
D as social Dialogue
From the intranet: “The social dialogue aims at ensuring the permanence, the independence and the competence of the European civil service. This dialogue impacts on the staff policy and plays an important role in the human resources management in the Commission.” Actually this is an umbrella definition for the participation of staff to decision making on HR matters at the EC. To which extent and how this translates into practical improvements to working conditions is quite questionable and at best variable, but there is a certain tendency by the administration and certain OSPs to accept only superficial changes to rules sometimes quite complex and hard to implement
D as staff in Delegations
Over 3 500 EC staff currently work in Delegations disseminated in more than 140 third countries and international organisations. They mostly belong to DG DEVCO and NEAR, but also to several other DGs. Some 60% of them are local agents, the rest includes all other staff categories (AD, AST, AST/SC and temporary and contract agents). They enjoy special conditions, actually severely worsened with the 2014 reform of Staff Regulations. Staff representation in Delegations includes a local section of the Staff Committee and locally elected staff representatives in each Delegation. Since in delegations EC and EAAS staff coexist, the Staff Committee was duplicated as well. Therefore each new or amended provision concerning staff in delegation needs double approval by two different Staff Committees, the one for EC and the other for EEAS staff.
D as Decision of 1997
On 23 December 1997 the Commission published an administrative notice with the rules laying down the composition and functioning of the Staff Committee. It is still in place no matter various inconsistencies linked to two subsequent reforms of staff regulations plus several reorganisations. One of its most interesting features is the number of members of the Outside the Union section, 14 in the French version and 7 in all others… together with another 4 decisions this text is currently under review (see Reform of social dialogue).
D as Democracy, representative
The specific form of power delegation from people to elected representatives our internal elections for staff representation belong to. As in any indirect democracy, power is held by the elected staff representatives, who discuss and debate on matters of general relevance with the administration.
E as Exemptions, statutory and associative
In order to allow for an efficient implementation of the Framework agreement with OSPs, DG HR grants “representative” OSPs a number of resources, a.o. 12 “exemptions”, i.e. staff seconded to staff representation by the administration. Another 29 exemptions are granted to the Staff Committee to fulfil its tasks. Altogether 41 staff can be seconded to staff representation. Although they are meant mainly for the functioning of the Staff Committee, they are distributed among OSPs proportionally to their representativeness at central level, and therefore remain linked to their OSPs, something that does not make the Staff Committee more efficient.
E as Electoral rules
The 8 active local sections of the Staff Committee have of course different election dates. Electoral modes are also different: some use proportional, others majoritarian, other mixed systems to award seats. Different dates make it possible that due to mobility between sites some staff are never on an electoral roll, while others can vote twice within the same term of the Staff Committee. This does not seem to bother DG HR, on other matters particularly keen in defending “representative democracy”. Different electoral modes together with a seat repartition in the Central Staff Committee not proportional to the number of staff makes it that a vote cast for certain local sections has a much higher weight that the same vote cast elsewhere.
E as E.1
The unit of DG HR in charge of social dialogue (and legislative affairs). They are known for their impartial and timely handling of all items linked to the activities of staff representation, as well as for the equal treatment they reserve to all OSPs.
F as internal Fights
As the current election campaign also shows, internal fights are the daily bread within staff representation – people appear particularly excited and motivated to deny newcomers any space, or to conquer positions in committees that are then scarcely used. Coalitions are formed and dissolved according to the spirit of time, and friends and foes change all over the place. This is favoured by fragmentation.
F as Fragmentation
Fragmentation of staff representation is mainly due to the excessive number of categories and sub-categories of staff, which determine different interests to defend. However this is also favoured by social dialogue rules that create a matrix between local and central, statutory and associative levels. Low representativeness thresholds allow for small groupings to become “recognised” and “representative” OSPs. The quality and quantity of work done in favour of staff greatly suffers under such cacophony. Such fragmentation between several local sections and OSPs leads to a steady change of appointments and an overall distribution of seats and position not necessarily corresponding to the representativeness of all forces in place.
F as Framework agreement
The current Framework agreement from 2008 defines the relations between the administration and staff representation to implement social dialogue. It includes provisions on freedom of union membership, representativeness of OSPs, their consultation at different levels, the conciliation procedure in case of disagreement after several rounds at administrative, technical and political level, and several other details governing the presence and action of OSPs in the house. A founding document absolutely worth reading!
F as Full members
Full members elected to the Staff Committee or appointed to joint committees are accompanied by alternates. While according to Legal service interpretation a full member is the only “member”, the alternate being allowed to act only it his/her absence, alternates can actually fully participate in debates. Therefore their respective roles appear sometimes blurred.
G as Gender balance at Staff Representation
Although several women appear among candidates standing for elections, staff representation remains a male-dominated domain, with comparatively less women – there are no constraints to take stock and balance this state of affairs.
G as General Implementing Rules
Rules drafted to implement articles of Staff Regulations, such as for instance art. 43 on reports or art. 45 on promotions. They are negotiated between the administration and OSPs and establish the details of how a given article is implemented at the Commission. This might differ from implementation of the same article in other Institutions. Here a recollection of GIPs (status: June 2015).
I as Interest of the service
Generic term by which several actions concerning certain staff are taken by DG HR. At staff representation this is used as a justification to extend the term of certain staff representatives, who are allowed to stay after they are 65 “in the interest of the service”. One wonders what may be the “interest of the service” in extending the terms of particularly efficient staff representatives…
I as Internal rules
Each section and the very Central Staff Committee have a set of internal rules, drafted by members at some point in time and communicated to the administration. Internal rules are often ambiguous or outdated, require clarifications and are source of litigation among staff representatives.
J as J-70
J-70 or the Unions’ stronghold is the Brussels EC-building where seconded staff representatives have their offices and can be visited by staff needing support or information. The main meeting room of the local and central staff committee is however to be found across the street at J-79 (nice cafeteria just below the room).
J as Joint committees
Some 30 joint committees exist at central level, where representatives of the administration and staff representatives jointly discuss matters and take decisions. Some of them are provided for by the Staff Regulations (such as the “Joint committee” (COPAR), or the reports committee), others are established by the GIPs of certain articles of Staff regulations. A document currently under review called Action 56 lists the existing committees. Several other joint committees or groups exist at local level, where they mostly deal with health and security matters but also with canteens or other locally relevant items. There are also interinstitutional joint committees. Altogether there might be some 100 such bodies to be served.
H as DG HR
In most cases, DG HR is the counterpart of staff representation within social dialogue. DG HR has a unit especially dedicated, a.o., to these matters (E.1). It organises all social dialogue meetings, concertation, conciliation and gives support to staff elections as well.
H as Help
Staff representation is not only there to fight elections, or negotiate with HR, but also to offer individual help to staff in need. Staff can ask for help both their local sections of the Staff Committee or OSPs. Seconded staff representatives are there to listen and support them with advice or legal action whenever needed.
K as HR Key figures
Every year HR publishes its key figures on staff numbers, distribution, gender, age etc. Reading it gives an interesting view of how the European Civil Service is shaped and changes over time. For instance, the staff reduction by 5% in recent years has been accompanied by a slight, but steady increase of middle and senior managers.
L as Legal basis for staff representation
Staff representation is a workers’ right enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights: Art. 27 (worker’s right to information and consultation within the undertaking) and Art. 28 (right of collective bargaining and action). Our Staff Regulations of Officials (SR) and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants (CEOS) of the European Union include such rights in Art. 9 (Staff Committee), Art. 10b (Trade Unions, Staff associations etc), Art. 10c and 24b, as well as Annex II, on composition and procedure of the staff committee and other bodies. There are several other provisions of the Staff regulations mentioning where the advice of the Staff Committee must be requested.
L as Lobbysm
Although the Framework agreement stipulates that OSPs must represent all staff without distinction by grade, category or other characteristics, the analysis of human resources management of the last decade and a half shows several imbalances that show how both HR and staff representation have allowed for certain lobby-like interests to be better represented than others.
L as Local
In an Institution counting more than 180 places of employment scattered around the world the local dimension of staff representation is essential and very well developed. Different working sites in different countries have different issues to cope with, different local legislations to take into account as far as health and safety are concerned, for instance. Therefore the local level of staff representation must be preserved. It also must correctly interact with the central level.
M as Members
In order to be admitted to the benefits included in the Framework Agreement (ability to negotiate with the administration, to receive resources and be able to operate within EC premises), every OSPs needs to be “representative”. To this purpose it needs to have at least 400 paying members and ensure democratic internal processes. Members are therefore essential for the existence and ability to work of any OSP.
M as Manipulation
Where there is a need, there is politics. Where there is politics, there is the risk of manipulation. Like any other kind of representative democracy everyone is well advised to pay careful attention to acts following political promises made during election time like the current one.
N as Negotiations
Negotiations are the essential part of staff representatives’ daily life. Further than negotiating with HR for GIPs or other legal texts, they may be called to negotiate on individual situations with managers. Other negotiations happen among OSPs when a (possibly common) position of OSPs is needed, as well as within the very same OSPs.
N as Newcomers within staff representation
In a typically hierarchical environment, newcomers are generally considered as a source of cheap labour that longer established staff can easily govern upon. Being a newcomer at staff representation is nothing better: You can count on several forms of bullying from senior staff representatives. Especially when you are not aligned with some common mantras “we have acquired rights”, “you knew what the conditions were” but at the same time you use up some of the resources made available to staff representation, you will encounter steady hostility.
O as OSPs
French acronym (Organisations Syndicales et Professionnelles) defining the recognised and representative unions and professional staff associations allowed to participate in the Social dialogue at the Commission. According to the Framework agreement, to be a recognised and representative and be admitted to the Gotha of staff representation, each OSPs needs to fulfil following requirements: a) to have obtained at least 5% of votes at a local election + b) to prove an overall representativeness of 6% at central level + c) to have at least 400 paying members.
O as Other Agents (OA)
All staff covered by CEOS (temporary, contract and local staff, special advisors). All together they count for approximately 1/3 of all EC staff. Their right to vote and to stand for elections is linked to the nature and length of their contracts (indefinite or limited in time, overall length around election time).
P as Plenaries
Approximately every month, the Central Staff Committee and its local sections hold their plenary meetings. Further to discussing on the various issues at stake, they often have guests from various branches of the administration, who come to explain new projects or to reply questions related to the implementation of pecuniary or non-pecuniary rights of staff. Such contributions are quite interesting and should be made accessible to all staff. Generation 2004 request to webstream all plenaries has always been opposed by some committee members from other OSPs.
P as Powers
The powers of staff representation stem from the Staff Regulations. Several articles mention cases when the Staff Committee must appoint members of joint bodies or juries, or be consulted, deliver and opinion etc. Certainly such powers could be better implemented, if fragmentation of staff representation would not prevent swift and effective action.
Q as Quorum
The quorum for all elections of staff representatives is provided for by the Staff Regulations at 2/3 of voters. It is a quite high quorum, which generally requires an extension of voting time to be reached. If it is not reached, a second voting period with a lower quorum of 50% of voters is launched. There are quorums also for decision-making at local and Central Staff Committee meetings, quite often not reached. Certain internal rules provide for written voting procedures in that case. Unfortunately members do not participate as often as they should in the plenary sessions and it happens that there is not quorum assured.
R as Referendum
The consultation method the appointing authority can choose according to Art. 1(2) of Staff Regulations to give staff the opportunity to express their preference on the conditions for elections to the Staff Committee. This staff consultation method is certainly preferable to general assemblies that in a big organisation like the EC cannot be attended by a reasonable and representative number of staff.
R as Reform of Social Dialogue
Most legal texts regulating the functioning of the staff committee as well as the distribution of resources to unions and the staff committee are quite outdated and need (partly major) amendments. A reform of social dialogue at the EC is a long pending matter and has recently been proposed by Commissioner Oettinger himself as a condition to extend the so called „6 years rule“, according to which any staff members can be exempted (i.e. seconded to staff representation) for a maximum of 6 years (corresponding to two mandates). Generation2004 has sent proposals to simplify and complete the composition of the Staff Committee, and have one single direct election to the Staff Committee while respecting the specific representation needs of each site.
R as Resources
The results of local elections also contribute to the overall representativeness at central level of OSPs, i.e. the trade unions and professional organizations of staff, which in turn determines the resources allocated by DG HR to each OSP to be able to perform their staff representation tasks (general representation, collective bargaining and individual counselling) – another big potential for endless fights.
R as Representativeness
The relative strength of an OSPs at central level, stemming from different local election results. It determines, a.o., the amount of resources received by the OSPs to fulfil its tasks. It is therefore essential for each OSP to gather as many votes in as many elections as possible, as this will be decisive for the ability to act during the term.
R as Respect of Rules and Staff Representation
As explained in various items of this ABC, several rules govern the functioning of staff representation. Some are to be found in the Staff regulations, many others in various implementing decisions or regulatory documents. Not all however seem to have the same value… DG HR seems to insist on respecting some rules, sometimes difficult to interpret btw like the duration of a Staff Committee, but not others, like the maximum duration of secondment to staff representation (6-years-rule).
R as Representative and Recognised Trade Union or Staff Association
According to the Framework agreement, in order to be “recognised” as such by the administration to the purposes of social dialogue, trade unions and staff associations must declare that their statutory aim is the defence of the interests of all members of staff without any discrimination based on any ground, and if they confirm that they have been legally constituted. The conditions for being called “representative” following signature of the Framework agreement are to represent at least 6% of European Commission staff at central level and 5% at local level (in a single place of employment); as well as to have at least 400 fully paid-up members who are officials, other servants or retired officials of the European Commission.
S as 6-years-rule
Several texts governing staff representation mention that staff can only be “exempted”, i.e. seconded to staff representation for a maximum of 6 years, that need to be followed by at least 4 years work within another service. This rule has recently been derogated from by an official Commission decision to allow trade unionists who should have long been back in their services to stay longer at staff representation.
S as Secondments to Staff Representation
There are two types of secondments to staff representation: the so called “statutory” secondments, whereby staff is assigned to the Staff committee (central or one of its sections), and the so called “union” secondments, where staff is assigned to an OSP. While there are many of the former and much less of the latter, together with several large and small unions, a simple check would show that those actually performing statutory work are far less than by the book…
S as Self-referential
An adjective that unfortunately can be applied to a number of items put to debate in plenaries. Staff representation often falls into the trap of talking about itself and indulging in internal political fights that nothing have to do with real staff needs. Maybe inevitable, but certainly incentive by the high seniority of certain unionists, whose terms and secondments are artificially extended by the administration, one wonders why.
S as Seniors within Staff representation
You may be aware of the Active Senior Scheme allowing for retired colleagues to continue work if they so feel. One of the advantages of certain staff representatives is that once they reach the age of 65 they get an extension of their term as an official instead, and this in the interest of the service. They can so continue working with a full remuneration, accumulate further pension rights and stand once again for election. Indeed how could staff be conveniently represented without them?
S as shouting
Shouting has been quite a common way to utter one’s opinions at local and central staff committee at least during the last two mandates. Shouting against each other seems to be the preferred way by some long established staff representatives to interact with newcomers. They seem to believe that this is normal and allowed by the condition of being elected. If staff could attend plenary meetings they would certainly enjoy the kind of theatre put up especially by certain staff representatives who should have long retired.
S as Statutory
The first branch of staff representation at the EC, as opposed to the associative one. It consists of all elected staff to the staff committee and its sections, as well as to all other joint bodies included in the staff regulations. Its tasks are mostly consultative and informative, but not only. If fully used the statutory branch can yield good results for the well-being of staff and its working conditions.
T as Transparency
One of the items staff now called to vote should most urgently require from its newly elected. Indeed some of the latter consider the mandate received as some kind of personal reward for which one does not need to be accountable to anyone. More transparency of processes, debates and better communication of opinions submitted would certainly reinforce the sometimes fading link between staff and its elected.
T as Two-tier-system
The legal basis for staff representation allows for a two-tier structure of social dialogue at the CE: On one hand, staff elect their representatives to the statutory bodies (local sections of the Staff Committee) to enjoy the rights to information and consultation by the Commission. On the other hand, they may also unite into unions or professional associations (OSPs) to exercise their collective bargaining rights and to enjoy protection against administrative abuse or other work-related issues.
T as Term of office
The term of office of the Staff Committee is three years according to Staff Regulations. However, the 8 local sections hold elections and appoint their representatives at different times, therefore the starting and ending time of Staff committee term is quite difficult to determine. The appointing authority can however decide to fix a shorter term, which may not be less than one year.
U as Unity
A feature often called for by several unions and staff associations, but quite far from being achieved at least during elections, as the number of electoral lists show. However, in most recent social dialogue concertations, most OSPs submit common positions to the administration. There is just one union sometimes breaking the front of all other OSPs … it’s up to you to guess which one.
U as Urgency
Although the Framework agreement provides for a yearly calendar of activities to be conducted together with staff representation, DG HR never makes to it. As a consequence, certain items for which the opinion of staff representation is required land on the concertation table out of the blue, as was recently the case for the resurrected Young Professional Program and the internal competition file. Urgency therefore becomes the way by which the administration forces approval of doubtful files.
V as Voters
The Staff Committee represents all EC staff, but not all of it are allowed to vote in the inevitable elections that take place every three years. Notable exceptions to the rule “1 head -1 vote” are
– other agents whose contract is for less than 6 months
– EC staff seconded to agencies (although their employer is the Commission and her interests are defended by EC staff representatives for some inscrutable reason they are not allowed to vote at the EC but forced to vote for the staff committee of the agency where they are seconded)
– EC staff having moved from one working site to the other just before elections are held in their site of origin, and just after they have been held in the site of arrival.
There are also voters called to express their preference twice in a year for two different sections of the staff committee (if they move from one site where elections have just been held to another where they are just to come) – their vote count for two, and they possibly compensate for the above who can’t vote!
V as Vice-Chairs
If you cannot be the Chair, be a Vice-Chair at least! In recent times the Central Staff Committee Bureau could count on a dozen of Vice-Chairs, all theoretically in charge of some file. Once the Mexican army was brought back to a more reasonable 2 Vice-Chairs, participation of now “normal members” dropped immensely…
W as daily Work of staff representatives
Seconded staff representatives have quite varied and complex daily tasks, which range from attending local and central staff committee meetings or meetings of joint committees, preparing communication of own OSPs to members and staff, and assisting members in several situations of distress, ranging from writing one’s own self-evaluation, to fighting for one’s rights against the administration (drafting of Art. 90 complaints). During social dialogue meetings staff representatives convey the opinion of their members on legal acts or initiatives that the Commission takes within HR management.
W as social Welfare bodies
The staff regulations provide for certain social welfare bodies to be jointly managed by the administration and staff representation, and dealing with issues like exceptional schooling costs, or social services in general. – In recent times the administration has shown the tendency to dispose of such committees and to decide autonomously on the use of their budgetary allocations.
W as Webstreaming
A revolutionary technology allowing to broadcast an event live so as to allow for people to follow (part of) the proceedings from their office. Too revolutionary for a staff representation including several members around already in the past century!
Y as Your take out all of this
Staff representation is there for you, to represent your interests and to defend you in case of need. It’s up to you to believe in and make use of it, to select it reasonably and to follow their activities.
Z as Zero tolerance for…
… all those who take from staff representation but don’t give accordingly. For those who tell you I will defend your case, take your vote but then goes a fully different way. For those who stand for elections on one list and immediately after move to another. For those who play games instead of defending staff. For those who “après moi le deluge” etc, etc, etc…