R&D calls for putting the « HUMAN »

At the heart of the Human Resources management of our Institution!

2nd Part—We expect much more and much better!

The administration must review its HR Strategy paper

The Court of Auditors has already invited the Commission to have “a better preparation and more rigorous monitoring of reform measures”.

R&D asks that the Commission finally put HUMAN at the heart of its staff policy by ceasing to treat colleagues as indentured servants and mere fungible resources.

1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

2. “The wind is never favorable to those who don’t know where they are going” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Solidarity is in R&D‘s DNA

Putting HUMAN at the heart of staff policy starts with putting solidarity as the first value.

For R&D, solidarity means inter-generational solidarity, solidarity between colleagues of all categories and grades, cohesion between pre-2004 and post-2004 pre-2014 and post-2014 colleagues.

“United we stand, divided we fall”

R&D has always been aware that only the greatest unity of action of staff representation can achieve the results that colleagues expect and deserve.

For R&D , solidarity is also the duty to take into account the specific needs of colleagues while never deepening existing divisions by advocating the setting of scores between colleagues and generations…

In all our actions, R&D brings together all the staff in its diversity and richness; this is R&D‘s strength and it is on this basis that R&D has become the leading trade union in our European civil service at inter-institutional level!

The new strategy proposed by DG HR calls for some changes in the current functioning of the Commission services.

On paper, the proposal contains some avenues, but it is still far from providing concrete solutions nor the necessary guarantees for this change.

We have already asked the institution to have the courage to openly display its real objectives of this “modernisation” and to explain on which grounds it is build, without once again hiding behind empty slogans.

The Court of Auditors has already invited the Commission to have “a better preparation and more rigorous monitoring of reform measures”.

We regret to confirm that all our questions are still open namely: 

A MODERNISATION BASED ON WHAT? :

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.

Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts” 1

A MODERNISATION WHAT FOR? :

« Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est» 2

Worse still, the decision falls more than short on setting a clear and effective governance of the processes: DG HR now seems to have completely abdicated its role as guardian of the proper application of the Staff Regulations and their application procedures, limiting itself to presenting simple and very vague recommendations with the obvious aim of letting each DG implement its own staff policy.

Under these conditions, rather than modernising our institution’s HR strategy, we risk seeing the implementation of 45 HR strategies.

The best example of this disastrous and unacceptable approach is the draft decision on the New Normal, which sets out very vague general principles stipulating that on this basis each DG will be able to adopt and implement its own “New Normal. There is no mechanism at central level for detecting and remedying any abuses.

In view of the foregoing, more and different things need to be done for R&D !

On these grounds, here are – in brief – the recommendations of R&D, which will be developed in specific papers:

Working conditions

Hot desking, Open Space

· R&D has already made clear its total and outright refusal, the adverse consequences of these two office arrangements, are no longer to be demonstrated.

How can DG HR be so ill-advised as to saying that they want to create “a flexible, inclusive and sustainable working environment”, if colleagues move from day to day in open spaces and “hot-desking”, without having been involved in the decision-making process, without having expressed their ideas or wishes and without any involvement of staff representation! 

Especially as this is happening in the midst of a health crisis. Here, staff are faced with a fait accompli!

Even worst, the OIB seems to believe that hot desking can work without any appropriate supplies such as efficient IT equipment, notably headset with proper noise cancellation, wireless ergonomic keyboard and mouse… Adding colourful sofas in a corner does not turn an old-fashioned office space into a dynamic workspace.

How can decently management support such evolution in maintaining their privileged private office? Being a boss is not difficult but being a leader implies gaining trust of the staff and being inspiring.

We are a long way from “leading by example” as promoted by the Commissioner Hahn.

· The green dimension and the commitment to reduce emissions are compatible with an innovative building policy; no excuse for unacceptable office arrangements.

· Special attention should be paid to colleagues with special needs (disabilities, vulnerable persons, etc.).

· As a rule, no decision on office refurbishment should be taken without prior consultation of colleagues from the DG concerned and the Joint Committee on Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPT). See our dossier

A credible new HR strategy starts by changing the managerial culture

More than just artificially multiply managerial posts, we must change the managerial culture of our institution, which implies a key responsibility upon managers! 

“Focusing on tasks and not hierarchies” – was one of the first messages of President von der Leyen.

Still since decades, the Commission talks about abolishing silos but never walks the talk. Let’s finally do it! 

Implications for the managers and for the individual staff member are manifold. Therefore, managerial implications are numerous: raise awareness, offer support, empower, organise and reward the colleagues who deserve it.

Leadership is not only about task distribution in line with organisational strategy and even less “obsessive staff control” of the staff.

Leadership it first of all maintaining a cohesive social unity, building the team and meeting the needs of EACH member of the staff. 

Managers must encourage the staff to engage in something they care about, to assume a more personal role in the group, and to be a bit stubborn about an early-stage idea they want to champion.

As a manager it’s not only a matter of appreciating the hard figures in terms of measurements, but also appreciating and valuing new learning and insights generated and put forward by staff.

Hybrid working in the “New Normal”

· Telework and office presence must be put on a truly equal footing and their balance cannot be left to the sole decision of line managers.

· Clear rules must be set at the level of the Commission, DG HR must play a clear role in avoiding inconsistencies and abuses and it is not acceptable that each Director General is allowed to define her/his personal “New Normal’ policy.

· Colleagues must be offered real opportunities accompanied by clear guidelines to telework outside the place of employment.

· In particular, it is no longer acceptable that our secretaries and assistants colleagues are constantly discriminated against. It is worth recalling that before the Covid-19 crisis, most AST/SCs and AC FG2 had limited access to telework.

Moreover, in many cases, these colleagues are considered ‘critical’ and have therefore been asked to come physically to the office.

The crisis and the lockdown proved that in our new digital era, they can perform their tasks remotely like any other staff member. The implementation of the new Commission decision must ensure widespread access to structural telework for secretaries and assistants.

· A lump sum covering cost of teleworks must be provided: as regards the reimbursement of an office chair, an indefinite time extension has to be granted.

· A joint committee responsible for ensuring the proper application of the rules, preventing, and sanctioning any inappropriate decision must be set up. The interests of the service must not be able to justify everything!

A green workplace

· This should also apply to our furniture and office supplies catalogue

· The Commission must provide a 100 % reimbursement of public transport.

· The Commission must offer more local products (short food channels) in our canteens and cafeterias.

Recruitment and Selection

· The Commission must once and for all put an end to social dumping and ensure that the category and function group correspond to the level of tasks performed.

A genuine annual internal competition policy

It is compulsory to set in close collaboration with the staff representation a genuine annual internal competition policy ensuring transparency and fairness of the procedure, focusing on colleagues’ skills, providing real and fair opportunities of tenure for CA and TA colleagues and also enabling real career development for AST-SC, AST and post 2004 AD colleagues in order to finally take into account the level of colleagues’ actual tasks.

A genuine annual internal competition policy is also the only viable solution in order to take into account the concerns of our post 2004 and POST 2014 colleagues.

The professional junior programme must be fully transparent and fully accessible for AST, AST-SC and AC existing staff of all grades, with selection procedure and criteria being non-discriminatory and by considerably extending the current 3 years limit of professional experience (AST, AST-SC and AC staff have more than 3 years of professional experience) eventually with a new professional programme reserved for more experienced candidates.

The need to ensure geographical balance is equitable issue but cannot be used to undermine the fairness and transparency of recruitment and appointment procedures.

Ethics is not an empty slogan

Internal competitions and appointment procedures especially those organised only at the end of the mandate of each Commission in order to serve the “parachuting” of colleagues into cabinets must be stopped once and for all.

The external publications of management positions must not encourage cronyism and nepotism: all too often the laureate is known before the procedure is launched and sometimes the “external candidate” is already working at the Commission….

Specific needs require dedicated responses

Our mandate a clear commitment to staff unity and a strong opposition to any corporatist approach aimed at dividing staff and, or even worse, pitting groups of colleagues against each other, we must never prevent to provide an appropriate response to the specific difficulties and needs encountered by different categories of colleagues.

To deny the existence of these specific problems and not to give an adequate response to them will strengthen the power of who aim to divide the staff.

R&D alongside with AD’s colleagues

Real career opportunities and career development must be offered to colleagues who do not wish to take up management positions, by making practical use of their skills.

Provide concrete alternatives for colleagues at the end of their careers to enable them to progress and not remain stuck at AD12 grade. Not everyone wants to be a manager; there should be more opportunities to be a senior expert.

Middle managers, who are in daily contact with staff, must be able to carry out their tasks of coordinating colleagues, not be reduced to the role of mere executor by a more intrusive senior management too often fascinated by micro-management.

R&D alongside with AST colleagues

Stop social doping ! The Commission must duly recognise the value and reward the contribution of ASTs according to the tasks they perform. We are a long way from the motto: the right person in the right place.

It is important to offer more possibilities to access certification, many AST colleagues have been doing AD work for years without any acknowledgement and/or reward.

It is urgent to offer more opportunities and fair procedures for ASTs to be appointed as team leaders, project leaders as well as Senior Assistants.

Greater mobility must be organised for ASTs, especially at the end of their career also offering more targeted training to facilitate their work and career development.

R&D alongside with AST/SC colleagues

Stop social doping ! The new HR Strategy focuses on three strategic priorities to address the common challenges facing the Commission: attractiveness, recruitment and selection, and career prospects, but it does not bring any new element for the AST/SC category.

The perception of the Commission as an attractive employer varies according to the category of recruitment, and it is certainly not high among AST/SC staff or future applicants.

Providing a career path for AST/SC colleagues is simply a necessity.

This can be ensured by:

· Further increase of promotion quotas :

There are still DGs where no promotion quota for AST/SCs has been granted since the creation of this category.

· Guaranteeing wider access to internal competitions

AST/SC is the only category of officials without any mechanism for moving to another function group (AST/AD). Without access to annual internal competition, they are denied any chance to career development. Colleagues should also be able to participate in internal competitions in order to progress in their current career and have the possibility to reinforce the internal talent pool, rather than participating in external competitions to start a new career. The Commission should invest in the human capital that is already in-house.

· Clarifying the long-term vision perspective for AST/SC and AST

In terms of tasks, there is often no distinction but it is clearly different in terms of salary and career perspective.

The 2014 Staff Regulations normally foresee an evaluation of the AST/SC category within 10 years of its creation. In this regard, 2023 (if not possible earlier) is the year to take on board and eliminate all the difficulties on staff development imposed by the AST/SC category.

Greater mobility must also be guaranteed for instance by opening up the access to posts in delegations)

R&D alongside with CA colleagues

Stop social doping ! Concerning Contractual Agents colleagues, the problem stems first from the establishment plan and the interpretation made by certain technocrats in the Administration, since officials and similar staff are listed on posts (temporary or permanent) and contract staff are only considered as “credits”, whereas the vast majority are assigned to permanent functions.

This policy encourages social dumping and creates not only disharmony at all levels of our Institutions but above all reinforce the Member States in their willingness to destabilise the Institution, like a Trojan horse!

Apart from being very costly, this personnel policy has become humanly and technically unmanageable.

The institution must start by putting in place a real career management system for our CA colleagues with fair and transparent procedures for access to higher function groups and TA as well as permanent officials posts. 

Unlocking careers, strengthening social cohesion by “screening” all positions of responsibility would ensure greater consistency and satisfaction.

The grade bracket for the reclassification of contract agents should be reviewed: promotions should be faster, in order to enhance the work of colleagues and strengthen their motivation.

The entry grade for newly recruited CAs should adequately take into account the qualifications and very importantly: the level of responsibility that a given post entails.

The proposal to extend the duration of the contract goes in the right direction and will help to implement a genuine multi-annual policy of internal competitions allowing access to civil servant status with selection tests guaranteeing equal treatment among candidates and the objective character of the selection.

For CA colleagues leaving the institution, the Commission must ensure the education costs of their children until the end of the school year.

R&D alongside with the colleagues of representations

R&D has always been on the side of the staff of representations and its representatives went constantly on the spot to be even more attentive to the specific problems encountered.

Thanks to these efforts, it was possible to obtain, the application of working time arrangements for all, the recognition of the years of seniority service of local agents, the resolution of individual cases, the defence of the expectations of the institution’s colleagues to become heads of representation by strongly opposing the massive use of external appointments.

Much still needs to be done in order to rebalance the workload and adapting the means in the representations.

It is crucial to involve staff in the event of reorganization of a representation, to restore true fairness in the financial conditions and to give real career prospects to CAs.

Career management

Mobility

the Commission should propose real annual internal mobility exercises always on a voluntary basis.

Training should also allow for future career development and not only be linked to current tasks.

Performance management

Early detection of talent: this should not become a golden (internal) path to promote buddies. Clear criteria should be defined and communicated as well as a joint committee should be set up.

Poor and unsatisfactory performance: the new HR strategy only talks about assistance for the manager, not a single word to help the colleague!

End of career

The Commission has no end-of-career management policy and there is an urgent need to put it in place. We must put an end to the waste of the added value of the “50 and over” who are too often humiliated by a management incapable of valuing the wealth of all our staff.

Recognition of years spent in the service of the Institution must be rewarded in a more personalized manner.

The possibility of becoming “Active Senior” should be extended, valued and encouraged.