DG BUDG: the return of the collaborative workspace fad

Colleagues at DG BUDG are the latest victims of yet another Commission fait-accompli collaborative workspace project.

The administration arguments for the project are the usual promotion of communication between colleagues and enhancing collaboration and teamwork in the services. However, if on one side some jobs may benefit from such type of workspace, forcing it down the throats of everyone and without providing a strong rationale, makes us believe that this is just another cost reduction exercise to be pushed on staff at any cost and under no matter which pretext.

On Tuesday the 7th of May DG BUDG’s Director General Gert Jan KOOPMAN, conducted an all hands DG meeting to present the “fait accompli” DG OPEN floor project. To add some context and so you know who we are dealing with, Mr. KOOPMAN was no less than the head of the Kinnock cabinet who drove the infamous 2004 staff regulations reform.

A few members of several unions, who were not part of DG BUDG’s staff, infiltrated this meeting. They were not officially invited by the DG but by some of their members who are part of staff of DG BUDG. During the Q&A section of the meeting these colleagues asked questions and identified themselves as members of trade unions. At this point Mr. KOOPMAN asked if they were part of DG BUDG staff and, upon a negative reply, he firmly invited them out of the room. What ensued was a screaming scene that we believe was unworthy of the EU civil service. As soon as they returned to their offices, they started rallying other unions to call for a strike without properly consulting staff on the matter…

Nevertheless, make no mistakes, while Generation 2004 finds the decision of Mr. KOOPMAN to evict colleagues from the room and curtail dialogue deplorable, we also have quite some trouble with expressions of “wild-west” unionism. Moreover, the fact that high-ranking members of the Local Staff Committee of Brussels were present, and lend themselves to this public spectacle makes us worry and feel sad.

There are appropriate procedures and bodies to address the matters worrying our colleagues at DG BUDG and we have decided to pursue them with a cool head and from a rational standpoint, instead of taking emotion driven decisions on the heat of the moment. Generation 2004 will pursue the matter at the Brussels Local Staff Committee and push for a strong message to be served to the Administration to make sure procedures are followed. We will also make sure the CPPT Joint Committee (responsible for advising on any matters related to safety at work, which includes any moves to open floor work spaces) is properly consulted – as it must – and will push for an educated opinion on the matter to be produced by this body.

In parallel, Generation 2004 conducted a survey to DG BUDG staff, and, as promised to DG BUDG colleagues, here are the results and our analysis of that survey for everyone to see.

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