EPSU-CJ The benchmark union

EPSU-CJ The benchmark union

Agora #91
28 - 29

Why then choose ‘EPSU’, an acronym for ‘European Public Service Union’, which stands for ‘Union Syndicale - Service public européen’?

One question that puzzles the uninitiated is why the member organisation of Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF), which corresponds to the Court of Justice, differs in its name from the other ‘US’ branches. In our trade-union family, only one case of ‘EPSU’ has existed, EPSU Fusion. And this occurs even in an eminently French-speaking institution like the Court of Justice. Why then choose ‘EPSU’, an acronym for ‘European Public Service Union’, which stands for ‘Union Syndicale – Service public européen’?

A difficult incubation period

The answer lies in the tumultuous circumstances surrounding the creation of EPSU-CJ in 2007. The new union did not come out of the blue. Within Union Syndicale Luxembourg (USL), major and persistent disagreements between the Court of Justice Delegation and the Executive Committee (dominated by the Commission branch) resulted in the breaking away of the entire delegation and the forming a new union, see Manifesto.

And, since USL had a monopoly on representing USF in Luxembourg, EPSU-CJ found itself, against its will, outside USF and had to adopt a name that would not expose it to dispute, while referring to its affinity with USF. Thus, from the outset, its articles of association have stated that EPSU-CJ “adheres to the principles of [USF]”.

A successful start

With the invention of the ‘prorata temporis’ promotion system to its credit (1), the list presented under the name of the new union, combining experience and renewal, won the 2008 Staff Committee elections by a wide margin. EPSU-CJ won a majority in three successive elections.

Strikes can happen!

The second major reform of the Staff Regulations (01 Jan 2014) was inspired by a desire to make savings at staff expense. Cutting staffing levels, longer working hours, reduced pension rights and new barriers between careers. And austerity in the name of ‘solidarity’. We kept our colleagues informed, led strikes and devoted almost half of our expenditure to funding them.

Rebuilding USF in Luxembourg

In 2015, USL, which prides itself on defending the specific interests of Luxembourg-based staff, ended up resigning from USF, which, at the Dubrovnik Congress (2015), paved the way for the full integration of EPSU-CJ into USF. EPSU-CJ thus became the forerunner of the re-establishment of USF in Luxembourg.


(1) Initially, the ‘prorata temporis’ system was designed for ‘new Staff Regulations’ officials recruited en masse since the big enlargement (01 May 2004). The system, based on the idea of accumulating merit over time and limiting the scope for arbitrariness and haggling, was subsequently developed, consolidated and extended to all promotions of officials up to grades AST 9 and AD 12. If it is an asset for the Court of Justice, it is thanks to EPSU-CJ, which also remains the guarantor of its proper functioning.  

Well-being -vs- Defending rights

The erosion of the cohesion of our team at the Staff Committee made it easier for a list proud of calling itself ‘non-union’ to take control of the Staff Committee and change its direction (2016 to 2022). Focused on managing feelings, it wilfully overlooked the fact that the staff’s ‘malaise’ was the result of the weakening of their ability to defend their rights, linked in turn to weak trade union presence.

At the same time, it was the launch of a ‘Newspeak’ campaign, a phenomenon that has become endemic at the Court, in both its administrative and jurisdictional practice. Claiming to be “independent” (from unions), the promoters of this list have reversed the meaning of the words. Independence is required as a condition for trade union recognition (see, for example, Criteria of representativeness). Only trade unions can and must be independent (in particular of the employer) in order to be recognised by the employer.

However, EPSU-CJ, with its almost non-existent human resources (see comparative table), has never stopped fighting, including in court, to assist colleagues in difficulty and defend lawfulness, sometimes successfully.

Sharing experience, building solidarity

A motto full of meaning. Our audience, our base, is changing fast. The memory of the institution (other than in its official version) is being lost. It’s up to us to pass on our experience (our understanding of the legal and political framework in which we live, our approach to broad-based solidarity in an open and democratic Europe, combined with our local knowledge) to younger people and newcomers. Not to turn them into “customers” (a term that has casually come to pollute administrative language), but to share our experience with them and build solidarity with their active participation.

Since 2023, having returned to positions of responsibility at Cdp, we have yet to make a qualitative leap forward, to repel the new attacks on our working conditions that we have always taken for granted.

Vassilis Sklias

About The Author

Secretary-general EPSU-CJ

Jimmy Stryhn-Meyer

About The Author

The President of EPSU-CJ