DGT: When will this useless ordeal end?


1. Space opening soon?

A Working Group on the Workplace of the Future has been established this year, comprised of staff from across DGT, its main objective being supplying a report with recommendations on possible future office configuration for DGT, under a really tight deadline. Although the Working Group members are determined not to be just “the cover of a book already written”, most people in DGT are worried that this may prove to be a mere pretext for imposing open space solutions on all categories of staff. Such an option has not been explicitly denied yet, neither by OIB nor by OIL, despite the fact that it would evidently have a detrimental effect on the performance of almost all DGT staff, notably translators; according to a recent survey by the Permanent Delegation of Translators (DPT), some 96% of translators consider it impossible to perform their tasks (that require a high level of concentration for almost 8hours a day) in an efficient manner under open space arrangements.


2. Don’t translators need language training?

DGT’s Language Learning Policy has recently been substantially modified, without any prior consultation whatsoever with its staff. According to this new strategy, language training for translators (i.e. training in their core business field) is not to be considered in the interest of the service, which would entail a serious additional burden in terms of extra hours for those who seek to upgrade their relevant competencies.

Such a change is considered wildly unfair and discriminatory towards DGT staff, in comparison with officials in policy DGs, who are able to receive training in their fields of work (including special leave and reimbursement).

3. If you prick us, do we not bleed?

After many years of continuing staff cuts, greater than in any other DG, DGT faced this year a huge surge in workload (cf. MFF, European Semester, Budget), that has left it gasping for air. For almost 2 months now, DGT staff has been working non-stop in order to cope with translation demands.

Still, translators had to grudgingly let go of their quality standards for fear of not delivering on time, as even the panacea of outsourcing lost its shine: freelance translation markets became so saturated that more and more documents were being turned down and returned to sender.

Now that this storm is (almost) over, as a token of appreciation for its efforts and heavy sacrifices, DGT is faced with extinction: For some reason, its annual total budgetary cost of merely €330 million (out of €9 665 million for administrative expenditure for 2018) is considered unbearable.

Various “brilliant” ideas are on the table of the Corporate Management Board, from degradation to an Office to dispersion across the EU. Their common denominator is that DGT staff, and translators in particular, are not made of the same material as the rest of the Commission; virtually all of them could be replaced by contract staff in the long run!

This sick arrangement at the expense of EU multilingualism has got to end, preferably sometime soon.

Summertime may seem as the right time for deep changes and authoritative decisions, but the truth is different and has a bitter taste for those who think so.

R&D supports the demands of translators to stop the DGT staff cuts and stop any steps concerning the degrading of the status of DGT.

R&D requests that any decisions on the further DGT reorganisation should be taken only by consulting with staff representatives via social dia­logue. This should begin as soon as possible.

R&D will take further action after discussions with other trade unions.