The role of the Union Syndicale in private and professional life

Angel David Mancebo

“Don’t wait until you have a problem to join the union. Sometimes I hear, there is no solution that fits all but there is a common solution that helps us all.”

My participation in the union is just recently but I’ve been on the Staff Committee for quite some time already because at the time we didn’t have a trade Union in EASA. So, Union Syndicale in EASA is still a young organisation compared to other organizations in USF with much longer experience. This is one reason why being part of Union Syndicale Fédérale is important for our cause. Their experience and their knowledge are important for us to learn from.

Based on experience, I advise people to not wait until they have problems in their institutions before joining the union. Because Unions paved the way to having a fair relationship with administration or with employers. People should join as soon as they work so they can have better support whenever they face a problem.

The advantage of being a member of a trade union is to avoid being alone in the face of problems. Because when you are alone, you are vulnerable. When you are part of a union, you can have a support system and surround yourself with people who have different views and who give suggestions of solutions and motivate you to keep on going and not fall down. Sometimes I hear, there is no solution that fits all but there is a common solution that helps us all. Solidarity is the most valuable thing in Union. We keep everybody in.

Frances McFadden

“Having access to a network of people willing to advise you is essential and it is what Union Syndicale is all about.”

I must have been 20 years old when I first started to work. I remember my mix of fear and excitement at the prospect of going to work in Paris. Coming from a small village on the west coast of Ireland, Paris held the promise of adventure, a chance to practice my French and build a career. I had a job lined up and the promise of accommodation, or so I thought. Once there, the reality turned out to be quite different. I had to find alternative accommodation within the first week and navigating the local administrative hurdles was an education in itself. Où est votre visa Madame? the police agent asked, looking at my EU passport, when I attempted to register as a new arrival. I was far from home, alone and starting my career in a new country.

New colleagues face similar challenges. We can all remember what it feels like to start out and we can empathise with colleagues whose contracts are fixed with no guarantee of renewal. The isolation of the first months can be tough at a time when you most need advice navigating the new work environment and the local administrative paperwork. Feelings of uncertainty, the stress of not knowing if you are going to cope.

Having access to a network of people willing to advise you is essential and it is what Union Syndicale is all about.

My experiences led me to become a member of Union Syndicale. I keep with me my memories of what it was like starting out, the difficulties encountered the deep friendships built along the way but also the richness of the experiences to which I have had the privilege all because I took the road less travelled.

Isabelle Gossart

“Join a trade union is to influence the recruitment policy of our institutions.”

As you read this text, written by an official who has been working in the European institutions for 19 years, please do not think that it is devoid of empathy towards our colleagues who are contract agents (CA) or temporary agents (TA), quite the contrary!

Looking at precariousness brings to my mind the time when I myself started to work at the European Commission via a temping agency, with a contract that ended every Friday, with no certainty that it would be extended for the following week.

It is hard to plan family life when you are on a weekly schedule and have two small children to look after…

And now you hear that your Directorate General is going to restructure: what will happen to me? Will I be needed somewhere? At this stage, you have to take the plunge, run to the human resources manager and offer your services, accept a position below your qualifications, for one year but which at least allows you to remain in the Directorate-General with an auxiliary agent contract (now know as contract agent).

It is difficult at this stage to plan the purchase of a house with a one-year fixed-term contract, as the banks do not accept your file… Then your one-year contract is renewed for another year, then another year…

During this period of stress and uncertainty, you know that you have to study and prepare for a competition, the only way to have any stability in the European institutions. You have to work long hours, because you know that if you not excel, there are plenty of people waiting at the door of human resources to replace you…

Dear colleague, if you are among these temporary and contract agents, you should know that, as civil servants, our hearts are with you and that if we have joined a trade union it is to influence the recruitment policy of our institutions, which is focused on profitability and not on the human side…

I am where I am, but I do not forget that I have been where you are!