Local agents account for the largest and most fragile staff category in Delegations. They are the people that the Reform forgot all about. R&D and ALTERNANCE sees this group of staff as key to the smooth running of Delegations as they form an integral part of the team, and guarantee continuity of service, thereby coping with the unpredictable features of the rotation system. R&D and ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 defends the key issues set out below in a common platform. To make an impact on the debate, Local Agents must clearly choose a list that has a strong trade union base within the Institution. By covering 70% of staff in the whole Institution only ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 can boast of such strength.
There will be everything to play for in these elections: Local Agents (LAs) have been the great unforgotten ones of the Reform, and essential elements for the present and future quality of life in your countries (e.g. a decent pension and a good sickness absence scheme) depend directly on the backing that you give your trade union when it is negotiating on your behalf with the Commission. In such a system, there is no place for corporatism and trade union divisions. We must all mobilise together.
Local Agents! These elections will be “YOUR ELECTIONS!”
R&D AND ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 calls for the establishment of:
1. a good pension scheme for all LAs wherever they are based;
2. a competitive salary;
3. a review of framework-rules, and the introduction of a disability insurance scheme for Local Agents and a social welfare scheme for retired Local Agents
1. THE PENSION We have been waiting for the Provident Fund since 1995 (it isn’t a proper pension scheme anyway, as it is simply a life annuity calculated as a fixed percentage of salary, and takes its inspiration from other staff categories in the Commission). The Fund has yet to see the light of day. The absence of legal basis recently discovered by the current Outside-the-Union representatives is a shocking illustration of the amateurism that has marked the management of the money of LAs, and LAs have been very poorly remunerated by the interest rate that the Commission pays. As a result of the efforts of R&D-Alliance and the FFPE, and for the first time in the entire history of social dialogue at RELEX, we were able to secure political concertation at the very highest level with Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner. This meeting laid down a road map and real political ambition: (i) a proper pension scheme; (ii) a method of salary adaptation; and (iii) a disability insurance scheme.
R&D AND ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 hopes to pursue this line with your support.
2. A COMPETITIVE SALARY The method of salary adaptation negotiated by the current team of trade union representatives has somehow “magicked” an increase of 5%! Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees! On the one hand, only some LAs will benefit; on the other, the method is flawed as it seeks to compare what cannot be compared: the “new” method takes no account of either tax issues or the mandatory levies that currently apply in different places of employment. Don’t think imagine for a moment that the Administration agreed to “increase salaries” by 5% if it hadn’t seen advantages in the method it agreed to in the first place. Furthermore, the way in which the method is applied has changed as it was negotiated without a thought for its legal basis or the budget. The immediate consequence of this amateurism was a complete breakdown of the system. R&D AND ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 says Stop! to all this administrative tinkering, and urges Local Agents to place their confidence in a team of professionals with wide experience of negotiating with the Administration and a good knowledge of the Institution’s procedures. ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 demands the establishment of a method of salary adaptation that takes account of comparators’ pension contributions, cost-of-living increases, and mandatory contributions made by staff.
3. NEW FRAMEWORK RULES
ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 calls for a rapid review of the framework rules with a view to:
• reducing the number of policy documents employed in managing Local Agents’ contracts;
• establishing a minimum salary to be used in all Delegations;
• Setting up a proper career plan, a transparent procedure for promotion/regarding, and real social policy.
Harmonising Particular Conditions of Employment upwards. All too often, the Commission fails to apply to its own staff the recommendations that it sends out to member states. R&D AND ALTERNANCE 2009-2012 calls for the rules to be simplified, but mainly for conditions of employment to be re-evaluated and not for an assessment based on the lowest common denominator. The Commission must abide by the spirit and the letter both of the European legislation that it promulgates, and, at the very least, of the national legislation of the country where it recruits local staff. We are prioritising social policy and the safety and health standards of Delegation buildings (Delegations must comply with European law, and not national law), and a new career structure for Local Agents.
Improving and rationalising the way the sickness fund works. The Commission’s health cover procedure for Local Agents is bureaucratic and is characterised by several disadvantages: ceilings on reimbursement are fixed without concertation, there is a very large number of prior authorisations, and reimbursements are subject to long delays. Concerted improvements in each place of employment will be necessary if LAs’ interests are to be safeguarded.