Newsletter – 2022-09-15

Newsletter editorial – 15-09-2022

Welcome to the Generation 2004 Newsletter of 15 September 2022.  We’ve been looking at the working time and hybrid working decision, collecting examples of how the new rules are being implemented in different DGs and looking forward to contributing to general Commission-wide guidelines via the new WTHW joint committee. Tied in with the WTHW decision and the ‘new normal’, is an evaluation of whether working from home is truly voluntary (especially when several Commission buildings were closed during the summer, ostensibly to save energy, will they be closed again in winter?).

One of the many issues we have with working from home is the additional cost, particularly for utilities. This is significant in the context of the Council request to further reduce spending on staff. Costs disproportionately affect our colleagues who earn less and for those whose earnings buy less. Luxembourg-based colleagues, check whether you qualify for the new state aid on accommodation costs (the Commission itself is fully committed to doing nothing).

In other news, we present the first in our new series of ‘it happened to me’ with the case of Schrödinger’s reimbursement, and we continue on the topic of health with a long read on the culture of burnout and a look at how the annual medical check-up is to be done for the foreseeable future in Brussels.  There have been big changes in Luxembourg with the change in the electoral rules for November 2022. In terms of events, we have a series of lunchtime events planned with a contract-agent-focussed look at the future. Last, but not least, we are recruiting a Brussels-based IT specialist, feel free to let your IT-savvy colleagues know!

That’s it now for now! Enjoy the reading and get in touch if you believe we can help!

Contract Agents: what does the future hold?

*Update 20.09.2022 event sign-up link added.* Generation 2004, the only staff organisation with all representative staff categories in its team, is here to listen to you and your concerns and to develop together with you our positions on many work- and well-being-at-work- related issues. The Generation 2004 team has made a solid contribution to defend the interests of Contract Agents (CAs), the category of staff with the most uncertain future. Continue reading Contract Agents: what does the future hold?

Generation 2004 is hiring a Brussels-based IT specialist

*Deadline for application: Friday 23 September 2022 23.59 CET.*

Generation 2004, the largest staff organisation in the Commission, is looking for a motivated colleague to reinforce our team in Brussels. It is a full-time job where you will be seconded from your service to Generation 2004. Please beware that the colleague selected must already be placed in Brussels.

If you are employed in the Commission as an official (administrator (AD), assistant (AST) or secretary/clerk (AST/SC)), as a Contract Agent (CA) or as a Temporary Agent (TA), you can apply for the job! Continue reading Generation 2004 is hiring a Brussels-based IT specialist

It happened to me! Schrödinger’s reimbursement

We asked you to send us your stories and here is the first one. A Colleague was diagnosed with a precancerous lesion. Although probably benign, it was growing quickly, showing micro calcifications, opacities, ragged edges, and highly heterogeneous appearance. The doctors concluded that it must be removed as soon as possible as it could easily become a malignant tumour (if that was not already the case) especially considering the colleague’s age group. Continue reading It happened to me! Schrödinger’s reimbursement

Housing prices in Luxembourg – the state takes action for renters

In the absence of any real action on the issue of Luxembourg housing costs from the EU institutions, assistance is now available from the Luxembourgish state for those on lower incomes (for Luxembourg(!)[1]) who are renting. The subsidy is between €200 and €400 per month, depending on take-home pay and how many children there are in your household. Looking at our salary scales, and depending on individual circumstances, this might help staff in all function groups and categories, but particularly our contract agent (CA), assistant (AST) and secretaries and clerks (AST/SC) colleagues. Using the pay calculator as a rough guide, we see that the Luxembourg national authority evaluation of what constitutes a low income includes our colleagues e.g. in CA III, grade 9(5), AST2(1) and AST/SC3(1). Please don’t just look at your payslip, not all allowances count towards your net income. Check out whether you are eligible by requesting a PMO certificate via the MyIntracomm Luxembourg state aid page. Let the PMO do an official calculation, you might be pleasantly surprised! Continue reading Housing prices in Luxembourg – the state takes action for renters

Housing prices in Luxembourg – the Commission is fully committed to doing nothing

*Update 09.09.2022: the Luxembourg state has taken action on housing costs* Colleagues in Luxembourg are well aware of the housing situation there: prices are so high that an increasing number of colleagues are unable to afford accommodation in or close to the city of Luxembourg. Generation 2004 has raised this point repeatedly and so we were very eager to see what (if any) measures the Commission might propose in its report to the Parliament and the Council on the application of the salary method (document COM(2022) 180 final). Calling this report a disappointment would be an understatement: dear Commissioner Hahn, if you don’t want to do anything for the colleagues in Luxembourg, just say so and don’t put up smokescreens. That would at least be an honest statement, instead of the current beating around the bush. Continue reading Housing prices in Luxembourg – the Commission is fully committed to doing nothing

We live and work in a burnout culture (long read)

What is the state of burnout these days amongst our colleagues? Do we know what proportion of us are feeling burnt out? What is it to be burned out? Where are we on this topic? What help is available? Are there any negatives to seeking help?

Burnout was already a problem prior to COVID 19: so much so that in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon and conceptualized it as a syndrome: Z73.0 Burn-out State of vital exhaustion: a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Continue reading We live and work in a burnout culture (long read)

Outcome of the latest vote on electoral reform in Luxembourg

So the road ahead for the Luxembourg local staff committee (LSC) for the November 2022 elections is set: there will indeed be a change to the current (2016) election rules. The proposed ‘fully proportional system’ (‘FPS’) will be used. A 66.6% majority is enough for a change of the rules: this proposal received 72%.

The first of two Luxembourg LSC general assemblies (GAs) was to vote on two different proposals to reform the electoral system for the next Luxembourg LSC elections. This follows hot on the heels of the two proposals from May 2022. Our analysis showed that both of these latest proposals were based on proportional systems, so they would undoubtedly offer certain improvements over the present winner-takes-all (‘majority’) system. Nevertheless, one of the latest proposals was unnecessarily complex and the other would benefit from a final review. So, we were in a dilemma: grab the opportunity to introduce a potentially flawed but more proportional system, even at the risk of running into problems with hastily stitched-together proposals, or refuse this ill-timed attempt, stay with the current rules for – given the time constraints – one last time, and leave the matter to the new LSC? We left the decision in your hands. Continue reading Outcome of the latest vote on electoral reform in Luxembourg

Is working from home really voluntary?

*Update 21.09.2022 links to assistance for those facing financial difficulties  added [6]* *Update 09.09.2022: the colleague who requested reimbursement of the teleworking-related internet and phone costs  during COVID-19  has lost case T-486/21, see judgment (07.07.2022).*

There’s a disconnect between the image presented in the working time and hybrid working (WTHW) decision and the reality for Commission staff in terms of choice of work location and working-from-home (WFH) costs.  First on choice, the WTHW states that WFH/teleworking is voluntary (Article 9(3)) while the Commission simultaneously pursues a building policy of reducing overall office space and open-plan/hot-desking environments. Would there really be a desk for everyone if all Commission staff chose to work from the office at the same time? Continue reading Is working from home really voluntary?

Brussels annual medical check-up: never going back to normal?

The Medical Service Brussels resumed its task of annual medical check-ups in June 2022, albeit in a very limited way.  Any staff not in ‘high-risk professions’ must go via their own doctor, with a corresponding ceiling of €45 (100% reimbursement) for that visit. This raises questions on efficiency: how much paperwork does this generate? Continue reading Brussels annual medical check-up: never going back to normal?