Stated aims and reality: AST/SC

Thanks to all of you who attended our secretaries and clerks (AST/SC) conference, the issues raised and discussed there are explained in detail in our original article.

For those of you who haven’t done so already, please sign our petition to improve the opportunities available to our AST/SC colleages: this newest of function groups (2014 reform) provides no room for growth and little reward for a job well done. Here are the issues:

  1.  very slow promotion speed [1]
  2. very limited promotion quota
  3. very small net salary increase
  4. ‘minimum subsistence’ pension by design
  5. AST/SC staff asked to do assistant (AST) jobs
  6. no access to internal competitions to become AST or administrator (AD)
  7. no certification procedure (nor attestation, for those of you who remember this)
  8. very limited access to the  Junior Professionals Programme (JPP) [2]

Words versus action

The idea that the 2004 reforms threw different function groups together and that the 2014 reform reestablished those differences is very much an oversimplification. Consider the chasm between the declared intention of the creation of the AST/SC function group and what we see in practice.

Remember that in the pre-2004 Commission there were 4 staff function groups (‘categories’[3]):

A administrators

B assistants

C secretaries and clerks

D those carrying out manual roles e.g. ushers or drivers


With the 2004 reform of the Staff Regulations categories B, C and D became ASTs, but with limitations [4].

C (AST 1-7)

D (AST 1-5)


Declared intention

Ostensibly the new AST/SC function group was to reseparate assistants (old category B) from secretaries and clerks (old category C) with no mention of those in manual roles (old category D). i.e. to resestablish a post-2014 equivalent of the old category C.

‘The new AST/SC function group was intended to improve the link between grade and responsibility. However, it will take considerable time to replace all secretarial and clerical staff currently in the AST function group with AST/SC staff.’ (Point 25, p.20, ECA) [bold not present in original]

A new function group “AST/SC” (comprising six grades) for secretarial and clerical staff will be established’. (p.8, Summary document on changes related to Staff Regulations review) [bold not present in original]

But that is not quite what happened. this is what we currently have:

AST assistants (old category B)

AST/SC everybody else (secretaries and clerks (old C) AND those carrying out manual roles (old D)).


Look at where the AST/SC function group sits on the scale: this post-2014 ‘equivalent’ of the old category C sits LOWER than the old category D [5]. i.e. the old D group became AST1-5 but this ‘new group C‘ starts at –1 and ends at AST5.

As usual, we are always glad to hear from you or to see your comments below!

[1] See DG HR, 2021, Human Resources in 2020  p. 96 for promotion speeds: someone in grade AST/SC1 is promoted at a slower rate than colleagues in AD5-AD10 and AST1-AST4.

[2] This issue is also present for contract agent (CA) and AST colleagues: on paper they can participate in the JPP, but in reality all have too much experience (>3 years). (See footnote 1 there for AST/SC and AST).

[3] Slide 4 , Slide 5 , Page 37

[4] Slide 8

[5] Image is a reworked version of slide 9

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