Driving the Social Monologue

Here is a quote from the European Commission’s DG HR web page on the Social dialogue: “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.”

We do however have some doubts about this and we believe other staff associations and unions would also argue this.

We rather appreciate the part saying: aims at ensuring, and: this dialogue is. However, in practice, the administration keeps placing a wall between staff representatives and themselves. Social Dialogue meetings with HR often become one-way communication encounters where the administration is not willing to listen to staff and make any meaningful change. We would rather call these meetings Information sessions than Social Dialogues.

The latest in a stream of examples of this behaviour is the long lasting Social Dialogue (it has been going on for 3 years) between the European Commission Drivers and HR on changing the 2004 Commission decision on the duties of Commission drivers, specifically the calculation of the flat rate overtime allowances. This Social Dialogue was nothing else than a one-way presentation of some dodgy and unsupported “facts” produced by DG HR. At no time during the meeting did HR show any willingness to listen to staff and change the proposal in order to – too late – respect and implement a 2016 decision of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on this matter in an acceptable way.

As a side note, according to the ECA’s decision, any modification of the 2004 decision regarding the flat-rate overtime allowance should apply to all drivers, regardless of their status (CA or officials). This would be a rare, albeit small, example of EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK in the European commission, at least for a fraction of a few colleagues’ payments. To put things in perspective, the European Parliament already complied with the ECA’s decision years ago…

Looking again at the larger picture of the Social Dialogue, we surely hope the aforementioned trend of social mono-dialogues will change and that the Commission administration will sincerely start asking for and taking into account the opinions of its staff before even starting the work on its proposals or projects that may affect our colleagues. Doing so would not only be a good way to ensure all points of view were covered before confronting staff with done deals that are detrimental to colleagues, but would also improve the image of DG HR, which, in some venues is only known as the litigating machine.

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