|Brussels, 5 march 2021
Note for the attention of Mr. Johannes Hahn,
European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources
Subject: Request for negotiation on the “New HR Strategy” dossier
We return to one of our most pressing concerns, despite the assurance you gave us at our meeting on 12 January: the ongoing deterioration of social dialogue within our institution.
Thus, we often do not receive replies to our requests (contract agents file, budgetary file, building policy file, etc.) when we do not receive a refusal without a basis (Luxembourg file).
The Commission seems to want to take advantage of the current pandemic and of staff distress, to force through important files without taking the time to listen to what staff and their representatives have to say.
For example, the adoption without any negotiation or even consultation of a building policy has an impact not only on the housing conditions imposed on staff, but also on other policies — for example, the implementation of teleworking — the contours of which are imposed by that policy. Thus, restrictions on hosting facilities lead to a certain type of teleworking without discussion. This therefore limits the interest and scope of a dialogue on this subject. This is not the only example.
It must be noted that the consultation procedure applied by DG HR is far from responding not only to the model of social dialogue enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights set out in the Treaties, but also to the explicit content of the Framework Agreement, governing relations between the Commission and its staff trade unions and staff associations, and adopted by the social partners.
Does the Commission now intend to prove that it no longer respects its signature?
« New HR Strategy»
The three fundamental principles of consulting staff representatives — at the appropriate level, in good time and capable of influencing the final outcome — which are enshrined in the aforementioned European Charter, are also not present in the “New HR Strategy” operation at the European Commission.
The trade unions and staff associations are thus unable to intervene in the decisive phase likely to affect staff policy measures under development. We receive documents either provisional – if not insufficiently worked – or to be concluded, that present them “with a fait accompli”.
Thus, at the Social Dialogue meeting on 17 February 2021, your services — in reply to the questions raised at the meeting — acknowledged that:
1) The process brought about by the “New HR Strategy” will affect the short, medium and long term in a stepwise approach, but for us globally obscure at this stage;
2) It is planned to move forward at first without changing the Staff Regulations, but without excluding any adaptation of the Staff Regulations when this is necessary: this contradicts the assurances we received from you at our previous meetings;
3) Even more worryingly, a first formal decision by the College would already be taken in April 2021, i.e., in three weeks or even during the Easter holidays.
It is becoming increasingly clear that this “New HR Strategy”, despite political declarations at the highest level, a priori reassuring, is likely to have rapid and far-reaching consequences for the European civil service, not to mention the medium and long terms, a dynamic that could, for the third time, in less than 20 years, lead to the opening of the Staff Regulations, reversing the compromises of the previous reforms.
In addition, the making of an “Action Plan” for the implementation of this new policy is announced by your services as imminent after a few weeks, without raising awareness of any concrete measures that should be taken to achieve this, beyond the list of intentions already put forward.
This makes it simply impossible to respect social dialogue on such an important issue.
If, on the one hand, we are interested in developing thematic discussions during workshops in various areas, as announced as upcoming, on the other hand, this can in no way replace a genuine social dialogue, which respects the Framework Agreement in force between the Commission and the trade unions and staff associations.
More importantly, we believe that such social dialogue is clearly very difficult or even impossible today under the present circumstances, given the lack of clarity, realistic timetable and proposals for concrete measures, which the trade unions and staff associations might use to express themselves.
As a result, the staff trade unions and staff associations again seem to be confronted with a fictional social dialogue, in complete contradiction with the assurance given by you during your meeting with them on 12 January.
In view of the above, the signatory representative trade unions and staff associations unanimously request that negotiation be held, respecting the Framework Agreement in force.
Proper consultation must therefore be held without further delay on the “New HR Strategy” file in order to enable the staff representation to make its contributions in full transparency, loyalty and mutual respect.
In order to do so, it is essential that your services send in advance structured documents that are not simply a collection of “bulk” ideas, some being interesting and others highly questionable, as has unfortunately been the case so far.
Similarly, we ask you to formally confirm that no decision taken by the Commission will be implemented before the conclusion of the full round of negotiations.