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Precarious Employment in the EU Institutions

Precarious Employment in the EU Institutions;

the case of the

Contractual Agents in the EU Commission

The Kinnock Reform Process involved a lot of inaccurate information that the Disappointment Authority provided to staff.

One blatant example was the way in which the old "Temporary Levy" was abolished in exchange for concessions from our side. Then the "Special Levy" was introduced to replace the old one, but the concessions were not restored to us. Instead, we were promised that the money from the new levy would go for our social expenditures.

Well, unfortunately, that money, which certain unions signed away, went straight into the general budget, where it serves to finance subsidies for billionaires and mega corporations in trouble.

It is hard to choose the biggest disappointment of the Kinnock Reform, but the un-kept promise of more transparency and even some social justice is sure to be near the top of the list.

The number of different categories and the complexity of the rules that define their interaction have not decreased in comparison with the 1990s.

By Article 31 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ("Fair and Just Working Conditions"), by secondary legislation and by the frequent declarations of excellent good will on the Commission's part, the burden of proof is on the employer when it comes to justifying unequal treatment of workers.

This means that there should be one standard model employment contract covering all those who work for the EU Institutions. Where there is a real, documented need for special working conditions, limited exceptions to the standard rules may be applied.

Clearly, burdens that go above the average need to be compensated with money or leisure. One can expect to find special situations in the EU Delegations located outside the EU.

Temporary employment is another special case. Suppose that a Permanent employ takes long term leave and that it is absolutely impossible for her/his colleagues to reorganize and work for awhile without her/him.

It is just barely conceivable that management has so skilfully balanced tasks and human resources that things work perfectly with N employees but break down with N-1.

Because not all managers are skilful at balancing acts, we may expect to see many such cases in which it turns N+1 (or N+10, or even N+100) are needed to get the work done on schedule.

For such an under-staffed organization, hiring one Contractual Agent helps to keep going, but it does not solve the underlying problem. Our Institutions are meant to monitor, regulate and legislate 27 complex, advanced countries.

The political decision to push down staff levels whenever there is an opportunity is one of the mistakes that opened the door to the current economic collapse.

All the "fat, lazy bureaucrats" in the world taken together have not done the economic damage that even one greedy mega corporation inflicts routinely.

Indeed, that hate campaign against the civil service that started under Reagan/Thatcher serves as a smokescreen to camouflage the doings of the super rich.

It seems that it is a rather small minority of Contractual Agents that work in posts that are temporarily vacant due to maternity leave etc. All too often, a temporary worker is placed in a permanent post as the first step, then that post is converted to a temporary one in the name of consistency.

The third step is to abolish the temporary post, again for semantic reasons. After all, a temporary post that is never abolished is a contradiction in terms, isn't it?

All that remains after that is a little paperwork to make the Contractual Agent redundant. Almost everyone looses.

Except for the richest 2%, who own half of the wealth on our planet! They have always preferred markets to laws.

All this will explain why it is vital for staff to defend their precarious colleagues as well as possible.

What the bosses do to temporary workers today will be inflicted on the rest of us soon enough.

There is another strong reason to focus on the Contractual Agents (CA) who are excluded from the internal competitions that the Temporary Agents (TA) may access.

The TA enter our Institutions without passing an open competition and some of them then "slide" into permanent posts via an internal competition that excludes almost all EU citizens, including the CAs.

The corruption scandals of 1999 and of 2003 showed that even the open competitions could not keep all dishonest people out.

Most of the TAs who get permanent jobs with us have good ethics and are qualified for our work.

1) All the clauses that differentiate between CAs and permanent staff need to be collected in a dedicated section of the contract and justified in writing.

2) Equal treatment for equal work" should begin with recruitment; people already working for the Institutions under national law contracts should continue to receive the same pay and benefits when they convert to CA.

3) Naturally, CAs have the right to equal pay for equal work.

4) They should be promoted under the same rules as other staff.

5) All employment contracts should respect national minimum wage laws. (Some CAs are paid below minimum wage in Luxembourg.)

6) It is best that all competitions giving access to permanent posts in the EU civil service should be open to the public.

7) If closed, internal competitions are ever held, they should be available to all those who work full time for the Institutions, regardless of the details of their contracts. (Such competitions should be routinely monitored by OLAF because of the threat to the integrity of our Institutions that they pose.)

8) If a CA is exceptionally placed in a permanent post and her/his contract runs out before that post can be filled with a tenured official, then that agent's contract should be automatically renewed to avoid wasting acquired knowhow.

In short; equal treatment for equal work.

Michael Ashbrook

S olidarity with those who work for their money
I ndependence from those who don't
D emocracy in all decisions taken by groups of sane, adult humans

SID - Solidarity, Independence, Democracy is an independent Trade Union of all EU Institutions employees (Je souhaite adhérer au SID…)

Register of Interest Representatives

Created by: admin last modification: Saturday 16 of May, 2009 [10:41:35 UTC] by admin

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