Yesterday trade unions and staff associations met in a “Conciliation” meeting with Commissioner Oettinger to discuss the General Implementing Rules that will govern how the Staff Regulations will be implemented in the Commission with respect to Contract Agents (both 3a – Contract Agents with an indefinite duration contract – and 3b – Contract Agents with a limited duration contract of no more than 6 years). The Conciliation phase is the highest level in the negotiations between the staff representation and the Commission. Indeed, Commissioner Oettinger was representing the entire College of Commissioners in these negotiations, not just his position or that of DG HR.
Unfortunately, very little was achieved during the Conciliation. Apart from some very minor progress on the level of recruitment of future Contract Agents and some vague commitment that the access of CA3bs to the job market of CA3a positions in the Commission and in the research executive agencies will be monitored by DG HR, no real guarantee was conceded by the College. In particular, no guarantees that the current social dumping whereby precarious staff is being recruited by the Commission to replace permanent staff at a fraction of the salary will come to an end. No commitment either to do anything to ensure better career prospects for CA3as, in particular those at the bottom of the salary scale, nor to do anything for the CA3bs whose contracts are reaching the 6 year time limit. The Commissioner issued a declaration shortly after the meeting. The declaration had probably been drafted by DG HR before the Conciliation meeting and falls short of any political vision on where the Commission’s staff policy should lead the organisation.
The current staff policy of the Commission is totally inconsistent. On the one hand ever more savings on the back of the weakest staff. On the other hand, ever more perks for the senior experts.
President Juncker has repeatedly put forward the principle of equal pay for equal work (see our webpage for a more precise reference). President Juncker can’t preach one thing and let DG HR carry out the opposite thing. We therefore call on President Juncker and Commissioner Oettinger to come out with a political declaration on Contract Agents that will uphold 2 basic principles:
- Equal pay for equal work so that Contract Agents who carry out the same tasks as permanent officials are rewarded according to their level of responsibility and experience.
- No temporary staff is assigned to permanent tasks.
Interestingly, the ECJ has in recent judgements strengthened the rights of temporary workers with respect to the need to justify the use of fixed term contracts (case C-22/13) and the employment conditions of temporary workers (case C‑596/14). There are reasons to think that the Commission complies with neither judgement and that it should therefore entirely reconsider its policy towards Contract Agents.