Brussels, 28 November 2019
Note for the attention of the Commissioners
Günther Oettinger and Johannes Hahn
Subject: Commission Decision C(2019)7450, Workplace Of the Future: Secession of DG BUDG?
Thank you for having finally ensured a clear framework in terms of working space arrangements…
We would like to thank DG HR for preparing the “Workplace of the Future (WOF), C(2019)7450 final” paper, and we would also like to thank you and the College Members for adopting it on 16 October 2019, thus allowing our institution to equip itself with a genuine policy regarding workspace arrangements focused primarily on taking into account the well-being of colleagues.
In particular, we would like to express to you the appreciation of DG BUDG colleagues who, as we saw in the adoption of this decision, gave a clear answer to the unreasonable steps taken by the Director-General of this DG to impose on his staff, at all costs and whatever the consequences, the implementation of open space.
… putting an end to the Wild West of the DGs and the caricatural
impulses of OIB, disguised as “open space sales department”… aka 6 star hotel …
Indeed, it became urgent to end the real Wild West where each DG claimed to implement its own policy in this area, with the blind and helpful collaboration of OIB, which seemed to have disguised as “open space sales department”, engaging in complete caricatural presentations, trying to pass open space as 6 star hotels inclusive of spa and pool… in the Maldives, Bali….
Thus, for the thirteenth floor of the building occupied by DG BUDG already converted into an open space, it was no longer about setting up a 6-star hotel but simply about guaranteeing the “Workplace in Paradise”, namely Paradise on Earth. During the presentations, the only thing missing was the announcement of available individual Jacuzzis and massage tables at the disposal of all the colleagues!
All this happened without DG HR and the Joint Committee on Risk Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPT), ? despite their good will, which we absolutely want to recognize and salute,? having so far a real capacity to intervene, in order to be able to ensure overall coherence and thus to oppose the leaps forward and overzealousness of some Directors General.
R&D calls on you to implement immediately the governance for collaborative spaces established by the Communication adopted by the Commission.
Indeed, while the Commission’s decision clearly defines the limits and principles to be taken into account for any collaborative space project, the governance part could not, due to delays, be adopted and it is recommended that the new Commission adopt it quickly.
Under these circumstances, we would never have imagined that DG BUDG could try to take advantage of this delay to continue anyway its entire project, purely and simply ignoring the new legal framework adopted by the Commission. This seems to be the case!
Secession of DG BUDG?
DG BUDG under the leadership of Mr Koopman seems to have decided to secede from the rest of the Commission.
In particular, it appears that, far from waiting for the implementation of this governance and thus from taking into account the basic principles established by the Commission decision, which are obviously incompatible with his project, Mr Koopman, would have decided instead to speed up the process by taking advantage of the time needed by DG HR to put in place the decision’s implementing measures.
This, in the obvious attempt to avoid being subjected to the steps imposed by the new procedure decided by the Commission to submit its project to the “Workplace service” and the “Workplace Steering Committee”, so that they can provide better coordination and professional support, going through several stages, while taking into account the well-being of the staff.
In such scenario, Mr Koopman would run at full throttle, all flashing lights on, without taking into account changes in the environment. Consequently, there is no consideration for the conclusions of the meeting of October 16 of the “Corporate Management Board” with regard to the reduction of intramural staff, that could answer the concerns about available space. The official word is: “the project will go ahead and we will draw the consequences thereafter and make the necessary adaptations”.
Worse, as colleagues in other Directorates General have pointed out to us, it would actually be about imposing this project to set an example for all the other services of the institution, by forcing them to set up, in their turn, open spaces, by invoking budgetary reasons!
While the College’s Communication on “Workplace of the future” provides a clear and precise framework, Mr Koopman seems to think he can get away from it as well as from the will of his own Commissioner who brought the Communication to the College.
This would be the umpteenth step confirming once again that the Open Space project is being conducted within DG BUDG despite common sense.
It is worth summarizing the few “peculiarities” of the process.
The “zero dialogue” is a common thread
First, the move to the open space was presented as if it was the wish of colleagues, confirmed, unfoundedly, by the work of the Focus Group.
Subsequently, faced with the clear opposition of colleagues, a multitude of meetings has been organized at all levels with the sole purpose of simulating a pseudo consultation (no minutes) to present to the CPPT. All of it in a climate of forced loyalty without hesitating to accuse all colleagues who dared to ask questions of being “disloyal”.
Finally, the picture got completed by the denial of reality of the survey launched by the Local Staff Committee near all DG BUDG colleagues, which results clearly demonstrate the opposition to this project.
For the implementation of these steps, DG BUDG gives the impression of wanting to convey a very personal interpretation… of Galileo’s teaching: “the authority of a single competent man, who gives good reasons and certain evidence is better than the unanimous consent of those who do not understand it.”
Colleagues tell us that they have thus been able to appreciate his conception of the dialogue based on the virtue of monologue, to listen religiously in silence, as well as his irrefutable allergy to any contradiction expressed in relation to the presented truths.
The only solution that can satisfy the expectations seems to be the replacement of colleagues and of their representatives by little stuffed dogs constantly marking their agreement by the mechanical movement of their head.
In addition to the contempt of colleagues, this project is all the more despicable because it marks a clear distinction between management and the rest of the staff, since the “low people” would work in open space while managers will benefit from individual offices.
If, as the Director-General argues, virtue exists regarding open space in terms of collaboration ? quod non ? the least of things to do would have been to hasten to set an example.
It is obvious how much tone at the top is lacking, making falter the culture of respect for the staff, which should be the one prevalent in our institution.
Unfortunately this is not without consequences.
These attitudes have plunged DG BUDG into a deleterious climate that can not last any longer!
R&D recalls that all experts confirm that going against staff by refusing a real dialogue constitutes a psychosocial risk factor.
On the one hand, the institution strives to put in place policies for the well-being of staff, while, on the other hand, Mr Koopman tries to force a project against the physical and mental well-being of his own staff.
Indeed, it is clear that colleagues from DG BUDG, which are among the jewel of the staff of the institution, are in obvious disarray and find themselves forced to express their discontent via other channels, since their own voices were stifled!
Posters mocking the situation flourish even in the most unlikely places. At first, in the elevators and, after a reminder of the rules for display, they appeared in the washrooms.
Written insults cover the official posters. You go up with an insult and go down with another, cultural diversity is working.
Some even say that degradations were committed on the 13th floor, leading to a certain paranoia.
The hierarchy develops an “aggressive passive” strategy when the subject of the Open Space is discussed in a meeting.
So many attitudes that should not exist, because they are unprofessional, but reflect the tone at the top.
Commissioners, it is time to come back to common sense and ensure clear governance!
The attitude of the Director-General of DG BUDG to simply ignore the decision adopted by the Commission in hastening to accelerate its harmful project by speedily submitting it to the CPPT is obviously a very serious governance problem, especially when we consider that you, as Supervisory Commissioners of DG BUDG, are at the origin of this decision.
We are thus asking you, Commissioners, as part of your shift of responsibility, to ensure:
1. Urgent implementation of the governance instruments needed to put into effect the Workplace of the Future Communication;
2. To instruct DG BUDG to manage its project within the framework of this Communication in the greatest respect of all the stages of governance thus decided.
Mrs I. Souka, DG HR
Mr G J. Koopman, DG BUDG
Mr C. Roques, HR Director
Mrs. M-P. Darchy, acting Director of OIB
President and CPPT Members