Newsletter editorial – 23-10-2020

Welcome to the Generation 2004 Newsletter of 23 October 2020.

In this issue we open with the hot topic of the season: Teleworking from outside of your place of employment! A topic as hot as the number of different opinions about it, a situation that led us to launch a survey to get a real pulse of the situation.

We also cover a topic that, with the ever increasing number of fixed-term contact staff,  becomes more and more relevant, the transfer out of pensions from the Commission system to other systems.

We also bring you the latest news from the Brussels Local Staff Committee mismanagement practises on how experience stopped counting and contract staff should not expect much from the current leadership of this body.

On more positive news, we report on how the PMO listened to our request and increased the size of its team handling Belgium family allowances, which have see their values change earlier this year and have consequently increased the number of update requests in this area.

The training on burnout prevention, which we announced in our previous newsletter, is about to start. Its two exploratory sessions were attended by more than 70 colleagues. The first real training session will start on Wednesday 28 October and you can still join! The course is free of charge but donations to NGO Maïa are encouraged.

Finally we bring you the situation around the new European School of Brussels and how a grassroots movement that Generation 2004 proudly supported, managed to sway a vote that would have otherwise very negatively impacted many pupils and their families.

Newsletter editorial – 07-10-2020

Welcome to the Generation 2004 Newsletter of 7 October 2020.

In this issue we are first and foremost covering the current DG HR reinvention exercise: the ‘New’ HR Strategy. We look at it with a critical eye and frame it in the context of the other large and ongoing internal project of our institution: the Greening of the Commission, and how the latter has the potential to affect the earlier, and, we believe, unfortunately not for the better.

On Covid-19 related news, we report on the freezing of the return to office, which Generation 2004 had advocated for and was being disregarded about. The unfortunately infamous expression we told you so springs to mind. In other health related matters we raise awareness for potential surprises you should avoid when choosing a psychotherapist, and we will soon launch a training on burnout prevention, which will be delivered to you via WebEx by a colleague working in the Commission. The training will be free of charge but donations to a NGO are encouraged.

In two articles related to the education of your children, we remind you of the deadline to apply for repayment of exceptional education costs and we also cover what effectively can be accounted for, towards a full-time attendance at an educational establishment.

Finally we would like to correct a mistake in the previous newsletter where the article on the European Mobility Week 2020 was wrongly listed.

That’s all for now, we hope you will enjoy the reading and, as usual, we invite you to let us know what you think or if we can help you in any way.

Newsletter editorial – 28-09-2020

After a good, albeit strange summer break, the Generation 2004 newsletter is back.

In this issue we will report on the reply we got on a note we sent to DG INGESTAD where we raised concerns over negative discrimination against Contract Agents and  ASTs who were not allowed to participate in the recently launched internal competitions. As it turns out… as usual… we were “wrong” and there is no such thing as discrimination in the Commission… On a loosely related topic, we have analysed the participation and inclusion, or lack thereof, of JRC AST colleagues into the AD certification exercise for ASTs. Yet again, absolutely no discrimination, which, in this instance, actually generates discrimination itself…

We also keep covering the CHAFEA debacle and the potential for the huge brain drain that may result from the undergoing relocation of the Executive Agency’s services to Brussels.

To end on a more positive note we will also cover the recent introduction of a national-insurance card for colleagues in the Netherlands and finally we cover the European Mobility week‘s most famous feature: its car-free Sunday, with an emphasis on how it happened in Brussels!

This is all for now and more will come soon, meanwhile, enjoy the reading!

Newsletter editorial – 3 July 2020

Welcome to the 3 July 2020 Generation 2004 Newsletter.

Summer is coming! Except, of course, if you are posted in an EU Delegation in the southern hemisphere! But before you go on a well-deserved break: vacation or staycation, we would like to cover a few issues.

First and definitely foremost we cover the recent opening of a new Commission club called “TAs club! CAs and ASTs not allowed!!!” Yes, we are obviously referring to the ongoing Internal Competition, open only to Temporary Agents. To celebrate the event we have launched a long overdue petition in support of Contract Agents and also sent a note to DG HR raising the frustration of both Contact Agents and Assistants, who were summarily excluded from this competition.

We continue with the follow up on the Chafea drama and then, surprise, surprise we cover the fate of our British colleagues in the aftermath of Brexit. Yes, we feel this saga will never end!

We also cover how, no matter what, the Commission bureaucratic cogs and wheels can’t stay still, and despite the COVID-19 crisis still manages to develop and implement rules for missions in a time where these are for the most of it at a standstill…

To cheer us up we do have some good news coming from DG FISMA, where following Generation 2004’s intervention a too restrictive interpretation of the rules on the summer teleworking  from abroad  was corrected. Thank you DG FISMA!!!

To close this issue, if you are a Commission colleague working in EU Delegations to third countries we invite you to fight for your rights… The EEAS is forcing some colleagues to take annual leave when this shouldn’t be the case.

Finally… Have we mentioned summer is coming? Oh well! Conditions to enjoy it may not be the best this year given the tragic COVID-19 pandemic, but try to enjoy your break as best as possible. To get you started, here is a timeless summertime classic interpreted by Ella and Louis!

Meanwhile, at the Generation 2004 Newsletter headquarters we are also taking off and will be back in September! So long and thank you for all the readings!

Newsletter editorial – 17 June 2020

Welcome to the 17 June 2020 Generation 2004 Newsletter.

The promotion proposals appeals season is opening tomorrow and as usual, Generation 2004 is here to help.

In this issue we cover the 1 billion proposed cuts to the MFF’s heading 7 and its implications, the updated teleworking rules in the times of COVID.

On more COVID related matters we further report on the progress on the Social Dialogue that started with our petition for a special leave for parents of young children, which, by now, gathered 2090 signatures (and is still open), and raise parents awareness to the situation and update of the Commissions childcare facilities’ rules. Finally, follwoing the publication of our article on reimbursement of personal costs incurred during the COVID teleworking period we got many requests for help to prepare the Art. 90.1 request and we have prepared a template for you to use.

We hope you enjoy it!

Newsletter editorial – 2 June 2020

Welcome to the 2 June 2020 Generation 2004 Newsletter.

Slow steps to return to the office are now being taken. Generation 2004 took the time to propose a staff-safety-first  confinement exit strategy  for the Commission and the EEAS, including Delegations.

Alongside, our petition for Covid-19 special leave for parents with young children has attracted almost 2000 signatures (THANK YOU!!!) and saw our request for  a Social Dialogue (SD) meeting addressed in record time. The meeting is on Wednesday 3 June and we would like to invite you to still sign the petition here so that we can go there with a response over the 2000 mark!

We would also like to introduce you to the latest update of the teleworking guidelines that came into force last week.

For colleagues in EU Delegations to third countries, the Common Front of trade unions and professional staff associations launched the 2021 complaint for annual leave following. Join the action here (deadline is tomorrow 3 June 2020 at 23:00 Brussels time), and read our past article for more information on the matter.

Finally, not directly related to Covid-19 but maybe relevant to you if you booked time-credits for the summer period and want to cancel them, we approach and explain this often-unknown type of leave.

Newsletter editorial – 14 May 2020

Welcome to the 14 May 2020 Generation 2004 Newsletter.

Many hundreds of colleagues have signed our petition for a coronavirus special leave for parents with young children. We thank those who did enormously! Especially to those that, not having young children, have shown their support by signing it. In this issue of our Newsletter we call again on colleagues who have not done so, to sign this petition and help us show the Commission Administration that good intentions are not enough and that objective and concrete measures must be taken as fast as possible.

We also cover the grave situation regarding the removal of the Luxembourg based CHAFEA executive agency and its surrounding Social Dialogue, or rather Social Monologue, also simply known as the Monologue, due to its rather thin social component…

Finally, we revisit the  subject of compensation for standby work; had first covered it in the September edition of our Newsletter.

Stay safe and do not hesitate to contact us if you feel we could be of assistance.

Newsletter editorial – 5 May 2020

Welcome to the 5 May 2020 Generation 2004 Newsletter. COVID-19 is still capturing our near full attention! However, while many report on progress of the pandemic and its related crisis, at Generation 2004 we are busy trying to improve conditions of staff during these difficult times: read here a summary of what we have been doing. In more detail among other things we asked DG HR and DIGIT to review the rules on what equipment can be taken home from the office during the mandatory teleworking and also asked for refund of privately bought IT equipment acquired by staff to be able to fulfil their duties during this stressful period. We also took a close look at the Commission plan to return to the office (aka “Operation Return”) and launched a petition to request immediate and effective help for parents in distress. Even if you do not have children, please sign it in solidarity with the many colleagues nearing a breaking point.

In more specific, but still somewhat COVID-19 related news we sent a note to DG COMM to ask for the yearly rotation exercise to be suspended during the COVID-19 crisis. We also too the chance to ask for a review of the whole rotation exercise, which, 12 years after its introduction, has apparently not aged too well.

Finally, in COVID-19 free news, we took a close look at the Local Agents Social Dialogue which is currently going on at the EEAS, and we are hiring a Secretary for our team in Brussels.

If this is not enough, please rest assured that there is more great content on our website for you to explore!!!

Meanwhile, stay safe and stay home!

Newsletter editorial – 16/04/2020

Welcome to the latest Generation 2004 newsletter. In this issue, we will keep covering the working conditions changes related to the COVID-19 crisis. Alongside this we will complete our series of articles on JSIS complementary health insurance, give you some insight into the transfer of pension rights, remind you why Generation 2004 must exist and finally ‘retract’ our recent article on positive change at the Local Staff Committee Brussels. We are also looking for a new secretary for our Brussels headquarters.

On a different note, as you may have noticed, the number of articles in this issue is lower than usual and the time since the previous issue is also shorter than usual; this is not an accident and is part of a new format we are introducing to our newsletter and communication strategy.

In general, especially when compared with other Commission staff organisations, Generation 2004 has always taken a frugal approach to emailing colleagues. Apart from announcing some events and actions here and there, throughout our near 8 years of existence, we have refrained from spamming colleagues with individual union tract mass emails and we have ‘stubbornly’ stuck to our policy of publishing and producing a newsletter, which sees, on average, 6 to 8 issues per year, and prides itself on the quality of its content. We have however come to realise that this policy has led us to publish issues of the newsletter which are too long, and where some of the articles are already a bit aged.

Today we introduce a reduction in the length of the list of articles per issue and an increase in frequency to one or two issues per month. We believe this will allow us to serve you better without reducing the quality of our articles: something we have always striven for!

Newsletter #40 editorial

Welcome to the latest Generation 2004 newsletter which finds the vast majority of us in circumstances almost unimaginable this time last month.  We understand the challenges we’re all facing at this moment in time and we are here to offer you our support, to tell you what we’ve been doing and to give you a look at what you’ve told us needs to change. COVID-19 is foremost: we’ve launched a petition calling for a coordinated EU response (please sign it and encourage others to do the same), inform about our  message to our newly appointed DG HR welcoming her to her new post and asking for a revision of the first version of the exceptional guidelines on telework (version of March 12), over the fallout from the closure of schools and crèches in families at the time of Coronavirus and explain how your voice can be heard through the social dialogue.  We also look to the longer term and the return to normality with articles on transport: we could all benefit from following EASME’s example and setting up a cycling allowance and we also evaluate the impact of Luxembourg’s new free countrywide public transport.

We have also been contacted by several colleagues who asked us to promote the idea of EU staff solidarity in relation to the current Coronavirus pandemic crisis. Although Generation 2004 doesn’t feel it should propose any specific causes for you to support, we would still encourage you to choose one of your preference, donate to it and show that we all care.

Feel free to send us your feedback or suggestions: let us know if there’s something you’d like to see covered here, after all, we’re here for you!