R&D’s CAMPAIGN FOR TRADE UNION UNITY AND AGAINST PRECARIOUS CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
The introduction of the “Contractual Agent” status at the time of the Kinnock reform of 2004 has been utterly disastrous for all former auxiliary staff and current contractual staff. Everybody agrees, and they are even prepared to put it in writing, but not so many have done what we must all do now – Con- tractual Agents (CAs) and officials alike – and mount a challenge. This is not the time for pointless, demagogic trade union battles. We must together build a common front to defend CAs and stem the haemorrhaging that has been caused by externalisation. These two campaigns are two sides of the same coin, that of preserving the European Civil Service. This is the first flyer of a series of five docu- ments which explain the work and the commitment of R&D for Contract Agents.
The 2004 reform: making savings and weakening the Civil Service
The aims of the 2004 reform were twofold: to make savings at the expense of staff and to weaken the European civil service. Quite clearly, the first victims were Contractual Agents, who endure conditions of employment that are much worse than those of officials, including those who have been recruited since 2004. Former Category D has completely disappeared, and the Council’s next aim is to get rid of the Category of Secretaries, and to replace them with Contractual Agents. For CAs, that means more precarious conditions of employment and a total absence of any long-term prospects. As far as the Civil Service in concerned, it will cause further weakening, and a definitive shift towards an e?litist administration that would be a far cry from the European ideal.
The reform’s disastrous fallout for CAs
Here are a few examples of the retirement situation that has been handed down to us by the reform: salaries have fallen by up to 30%; recruitment is down, and the conditions for regarding are outra- geous, particularly for Function Group I; precarious conditions of employment are well established, and unfair dismissal is commonplace; the transition between statuses of Local Agent and that of Con- tractual Agent has been an unmitigated disaster; career prospects have vanished without trace; and salaries are below national minimum wages and scoff at the reality of the market. It has taken R&D four years of patient, painstaking work to re-establish the conditions for trade union unity, this finally materialising through the adoption of a unanimous resolution by the Central Staff Committee on 14 March 2008.
Re-establishing trade union unity in order to defend Contractual Agents
R&D has patiently re-established unity of action for all actors around these ideas, and has steered clear of sterile controversies and foolish demagogy. On 25 March 2009, R&D started work on a root- and-branch re-casting of the CA policy on issues such as recruitment, the promotion system and the level of grading.
In July 2008, the Commission employed 3672 CAs in Brussels and 5657 altogether (all workplaces taken into account).
Today, R&D explains what it has been doing in a series of five flyers on: 1. Re- cruitment; 2. Access to contracts; 3. Pay; 4. Career development; 5. Becoming an official.