Upon request, teleworking in Ukraine and abroad has been made available also for local agents by the latest Admin decision (2022)20. For the time being this arrangement will be for 3 months, we will closely monitor the situation and the requests for extensions where applicable and necessary.
Since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (24.02.2022) Generation2004 has actively been in touch with local agents and we are aware that all expat colleagues have been successfully evacuated to locations outside the country. For local agents, Generation 2004 requested the following:
- Non-evacuated colleagues in Ukraine
Quite a number of local agent colleagues still remain in Kyiv. The European External Action Service (EEAS) should reassess the situation frequently, follow the unfolding situation closely and provide any assistance within its remit.
- Special leave
Since most colleagues are probably not in a convenient situation to access a corporate laptop at the moment, we requests that the EEAS put in place an extremely simplified application process (e.g. by request sent to Delegation management via Whatsapp) with the possibility to receive approval in a similar fashion.
- Coverage of medical expenses outside Ukraine
Colleagues who are evacuated to neighbouring countries, mostly women and children (without schooling or childcare) are tired, traumatized, and in distress as the future is extremely unclear. We request to allow coverage of all medical costs (including social and psychological support) for colleagues and their families and the prior approval procedure should be streamlined to allow maximum flexibility.
- Salary advance
Some staff members were evacuated to Member States which have a much higher cost of living compared to Ukraine. A three-month salary advance should be processed as quickly as possible. Additionally, a three-month salary advance does not go very far if colleagues need to arrange their own temporary accommodation. Therefore, Generation 2004 requests where possible, living costs could be supported by the services and in turn, we can arrange, together with many other stakeholders (e.g. interested EU agencies, Delegations, DGs, other staff representations) additional donation campaigns, to support colleagues in need.
- Crisis management budget/ EEAS and Commission effort
We see from the video message of Commissioner Hahn (03.03.2022) that the institutions have spared no effort for local agents and have assisted in making arrangements to ensure their livelihoods; We however see that reality on the ground seems to be different, that colleagues in neighbouring countries (e.g. Poland and Moldova) have been opening their homes to welcome local agents from Kyiv, and that DG NEAR has arranged a donation campaign to raise the necessary funds to assist.
Generation 2004 requests EEAS and Commission to clarify what financial resources is available to colleagues in the middle of this crisis and Generation 2004 would like to push for prominent institutional support
- Lessons learnt and way forward
Generation2004 requests that the EEAS set out detailed and thorough crisis-management guidelines for Delegations and, in particular, that it have a section dedicated to local agents. As we can see from this experience, Ukraine is a family posting and it comes as a surprise that such emergency and war can happen to this place of posting. It rings an alarm bell now to EEAS to assess whether some countries viewed as ‘safe’ can reasonably still be considered ‘safe’.
The lessons learnt from the coup in Turkey and evacuation of all colleagues in Kabul should not go wasted. We can now see that this might potentially be a multi-year conflict. The EEAS should start to envisage what messages the institution would like to give Ukraine colleagues to address the following:
- Evacuated local agents’ status in the Member states, whether any planning could be done with EU Member States to provide a residency permit, some legal status so that they can access to social security system (e.g. education and health care);
- What would be EEAS’s short term planning with Kyiv Delegation? Would it be closed? Moved?
- The future of local agents – as one can understand naturally that local agents would like to know what will be the status of employment contract after 3 months. We hope that the expertise of the local agents and their possibility to deliver will be used to a maximum, if the situation allows, and their employment contracts will be continued in a teleworking mode. Alternatively, the EEAS could assist colleagues in finding employment opportunities with project partners (e.g. United Nations, International Organisations, NGOs, etc.) in EU Member States.
Generation 2004 understands that there are many points to address. European Union should do the utmost possible for colleagues in order to demonstrate our solidarities.