Brussels, 4 May 2020

Allocation of new programme portfolios to Executive Agencies

R&D asked  : « Fiat lux » 

In our 20 April 2020 communication ( read ) we had denounced the management of this file, until then more than obscure; this led many colleagues from both the Executive Agencies and the Directorates-General concerned to call on R&D.

We had asked that the greatest transparency be ensured on this file concerning nearly 3000 colleagues and to immediately ensure genuine social dialogue with the staff representatives.

We have been then overwhelmed by messages from colleagues from both the Agencies and the Directorates-General concerned, thanking us for our communication inviting us to continue our tireless efforts.

After the distribution of our leaflet “… facta est lux” or almost…

On the one hand, it was only following the circulation of our communication that the closure of the CHAFEA Agency was finally confirmed when it had been denied until then: an unworthy management of our institutions!

Furthermore, the decision to close the agency was brutally announced to staff… during a WebEx videoconference!

This, while, until then, this decision had been carefully kept in deepest secrecy and even formally denied by the management of this Agency widely disseminating assurances that have proven to be totally empty !

All this when it is a matter of announcing to dozens of colleagues and their families the obligation to move from Luxembourg to Brussels under threat of losing their jobs!

On the other hand, the Directors of the Agencies and the Directors-General of the parent DGs finally inform, in turn, the staff

We take note of the information that was finally disseminated to staff concerning the details of the proposal subsequently adopted by the Commission last 29 April 2020, while also using Q / A responding to the most recurring questions that the colleagues are entitled to ask themselves.

R&D works alongside the staff of the Agencies and their Staff Committees and fully supports their letter addressed to the President von der Leyen and to Commissioner Hahn ( read) !

Faced with such pitiful management, R&D fully supports the steps taken by ALL Agencies Staff Committees who denounced by their note addressed to the President von der Leyen and Commissioner Hahn, the absolutely unacceptable nature of such procedures, the total lack of social dialogue and the deep contempt shown towards our colleagues.

Indeed, the decision to close CHAFEA without any social dialogue does not only affect its staff but also the staff of all other Executive Agencies! 

The closure of CHAFEA decided under such conditions and without the faintest prior analysis of the consequences on the private and professional lives of the colleagues concerned, has deeply challenged the confidence of the staff in our institution as well as the possibility of believing in promises and assurances it can give.

While the European Union, as an employer, should set an example and preserve the health of its staff by putting in place staff policies focused on the prevention of psychosocial risks, it preferred, by this decision, to choose to plunge its staff into stress and into a real psychological shock, in the middle of a lockdown!

The 3000 colleagues from other agencies are now entitled to believe that their contracts could in turn be eventually terminated and under the same unacceptable terms, if, in the future, the Commission were to decide — just as brutally and from night to day — to close one or more of the other agencies.

That the embargo imposed on all information concerning the decision to close CHAFEA could have been imposed, as it is claimed, by DG BUDG and / or by the SG, being it organized so as not to have to manage the reaction of Luxembourg authorities… does not change the fact that the Research family’s Directorates-General, responsible for the Executive Agencies, should never have accepted such imposition.

Indeed, it is the confidence of their staff that has been flouted in so doing, and that it is now up to them to try to win it back.

Social dialogue” within the Agencies: simple announcement few hours before the decision is adopted!

In particular, we share in toto the analysis included in the letter from the Agencies Staff Committees denouncing that, alongside the simply shameful management of the closure of CHAFEA, this whole exercise has been carried out until there with lack of transparency, respect for colleagues and even disregard of a semblance of social dialogue.

This, while barely a few months ago, by signing the MoU ( read ) with the unions, all the Directors of the agencies had confirmed their attachment to social dialogue “for the benefit and wellbeing of the staff of the Executive Agencies”.

To be able to appreciate the state of mind which governs the management of this file, it is significant to note that, in all the multitude of documents, information, Q / A… which were finally disseminated to the staff by the agencies as well as by the parent Directorates-General, there is NO reference or commitment whatsoever to put in place for the next steps of this file even a semblance of social dialogue.

And in these conditions, they even dare to continue to boast of holding on to social dialogue and to claim that Agency staff would not be entitled to denounce the fact of being treated as labour force ready to do its master’s bidding.

We thank DG HR for accepting our invitation aiming at bringing this dossier back in the frame of formal social dialogue procedures

We thank DG HR for having reacted without delay to our leaflet by scheduling a social dialogue meeting that was first convened on 27 April 2020 and will be finally held on 4 May 2020.

On this occasion, we shall reiterate the demands and guarantees that we claim to defend the rights and expectations of our colleagues.

R&D claims:

1. to reconsider the decision of closing CHAFEA and to discuss alternative proposals;

2. that, in any case, NO ONE should be left behind, and that no colleague should have his/her job endangered;

3. to guarantee the continuity of contracts and the respect for the acquired rights, in particular those concerning the pension rights for all CA and TA colleagues of the agencies to whom mobility would be imposed within the framework of this exercise;

4. to confirm the voluntary nature of the secondment to an Executive Agency of any colleague working with a Directorate-General, irrespective of their status;

5. to insure full transparency and to avoid any abuse, favouritism and discrimination regarding the choice of both colleagues concerned by the mobility of the parent Directorates-General towards the Executive Agencies and by “in bloc” transfers from one Executive Agency to another.

In this regard, being the devil in the details, we must learn from all experiences and:

–   within the parent Directorates-General, avoid “last-minute transfers” from CA colleagues on posts intended to be transferred to the Agencies in order to allow them to access permanent contracts, this to the detriment of other CA colleagues from the same DG;

–   within the Executive Agencies, there can be no issue with managers trying to decline as they see fit the “object criteria”, by composing the list of colleagues concerned by the “in bloc” mobility so as not to keep in that list the “best elements”, while delighting themselves by including in it the colleagues they want to get rid of.

6. after this first meeting, DG HR should also bring back in the framework of social dialogue, the management of all the successive stages of this file by dealing beforehand and in the minor details the consequences on staff.

Cristiano  Sebastiani,