Dear Colleagues,

So far, no reply to our open letter dd. 25 October 2016 (see enclosed). However:

  • we are regularly told that posts published in SYSPER2, in particular for AST 10-11, are in fact “reserved”;
  • DGs are recruiting contractual agents or even interim agents to do the work of ASTs whose posts have become vacant although not published in SYSPER2
  • if ever an AST post is published in SYSPER2, DGs decide to have it published in category AST/SC;
  • DGs rarely inform AST colleagues on the follow-up given to their applications submitted in SYSPER2;
  • the administration constantly puts official and contractual agents – who are scared of losing their contract – in competition at work with the result that some AST colleagues are suffering from bore-out;
  • some DGs avoid redistributing staff in order to cover for the real needs in administrative support, because they are afraid of disappointing the hierarchy who would consider such an approach as an affront;
  • most AST colleagues do regularly AST tasks without being recognised as such. Indeed, each year the expensive certification process – the transparency of which being quite relative – opens the possibility for a handful of ASTs only to become an AD. Furthermore, most ASTs will not manage to find a post once the training is finished;
  • there is NOTHING about ASTs in the Talent Management Strategy.

And if that was not enough, another inconsistency: DG HR is reshuffled in order to reduce the HR ratio “Staff to client” from 1 :29 to 1 :40 and the number of posts is accordingly reduced while a call for interest for contractual agents with Administration/Human Resources profiles has been launched. What is the reasoning behind this?

Since the reforms of 2004 and 2014, the AST category is THE category of officials which was sacrificed in the name of a steady austerity policy on the administrative budget demanded by some Member  States. The situation got seriously worse since the 2014 Reform when the AST category became a kind of catch-all category where “Support agents in transition” (ex-D AST1-5), “Administrative assistants in transition” (ex-C AST 1-7), “Assistants in transition” (ex-B AST 1-9) and “Senior assistants in transition” (AST 10-11) are to be found. The Commission is boasting about having set up a genuine Talent management policy but not a single chapter is devoted to ASTs. The ASTs consider this lack of strategic vision for their function as a denial of their added value.

On top of that, we observe today that the tasks executed by the ASTs whose posts were massively returned to the administration to meet the yearly 1% staff cuts requirement since 2013, are now entrusted to staff at lower cost and/or with insecure job conditions because these tasks are eventually considered as essential for the good functioning of the institution. This looks very much like SOCIAL DUMPING…

The petitioners are tired of suffering from this austerity policy only governed by SAVINGS. They request to end this policy which has neither short, medium nor long-term vision and only aims at playing the different categories of staff off against each other. The petitioners are calling upon the Commission:  

  • to entrust an external body to do an audit of the staff policy in order to define the real staff needs considered as essential to the proper functioning of the Institution;
  • to launch simultaneously an anonymous satisfaction survey targeting the staff delivering “administrative support” in order to understand theirs grievances, sources of frustrations and what is they are longing for;
  • to develop a real talent management strategy for ASTs based on the results of the above-mentioned external audit and satisfaction survey;
  • to ensure that Directorate-Generals suffering from severe staff cuts keep staff duly informed of the situation and of their professional future;
  • to ensure that Directorate-Generals regularly assess the administrative support needs and proceed to redeployment before publishing a post;
  • to regularly update the “job descriptions” in order that they reflect the tasks effectively done;
  • to assess, even cancel this expensive and disastrous certification process and open up the possibility for ASTs as from grade AST/5 to apply for AD posts and commit to transform AST posts into AD ones on the basis of the job description. This transfer of category would not imply any additional budget;
  • to commit to have all AST permanent posts systematically published in SYSPER2 to ensure a better mobility of colleagues;
  • to commit to ensure full transparency in the recruitment of AST 10-11;
  • to set up a “listening room” for the ASTs who were working in the human resources units but were not taken over in the HR recentralisation.

If you agree with the above, please reply by using the voting button “Yes” before 20 March.

This petition will be handed over to Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Mr Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President and Mr Günther Oettinger, recently appointed as Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources at the end of March 2017.