The Method: the Historical Struggle of US

Method, Special Report

The Method, the historical struggle of Union Syndicale, is today still bearing its fruits.

Salary update: + 2.0 %
Reduction in pension contribution: – 0.3 %
Combined net effect: + 2.2 % on average

Since 2015, salary and pensions updates have once again been ensuring that our pay develops in parallel with that of civil servants in the Member States. Past data has shown us that this parallel development is broadly in line with inflation in the long term.

Facts matter

Before we explain the details of the 2019 remuneration and pensions update, it is worth noting that the current ‘Method’ was secured following a number of protracted strikes in the 1980s and 90s. Union Syndicale was at the forefront of the fight to secure an automatic method (thus the historical struggle) for the adjustment of salaries, whereas the Council and other trade unions argued in favour of an adjustment that would be negotiated on an annual basis.

After a number of years of salary stagnation, during which the staff lost more than 12 % of their purchasing power (whereas national civil servants lost only 4 % of their purchasing power), one of the few positive points that Union Syndicale was able to secure in the 2014 reform of the Staff Regulations was the introduction of a fully automatic method for updating salaries and pensions, which means that the Council is no longer able to make changes or obstruct the process.

How does it work now?

On the basis of data provided by the Member States and checked by Eurostat, Eurostat draws up a report detailing developments in the purchasing power of civil servants in 11 Member States (previously eight) and inflation in Belgium and Luxembourg, based on national price indices but taking into account our spending pattern and a staff distribution of around 80 % in Belgium and 20 % in Luxembourg.

The Commission takes note of the report, informs the other institutions, and asks the PMO to modify its IT program accordingly. The new salary scale is then published for information in the C series of the Official Journal around mid-December, at which point we receive our payslips with the new amounts.

Why 2.0 %?

This percentage corresponds to inflation of 1.5 % according to the new Belgium-Luxembourg artificial index, and a 0.5 % increase in the net purchasing power of national civil servants between July 2018 and June 2019. Losses in purchasing power were recorded in Poland, France and Italy, while civil servants’ purchasing power increased in the other eight Member States, especially in Spain and Sweden.

The 2.0 % update, with retroactive effect from 1 July 2019, should already be incorporated into our pay in December.

9.7 % pension contribution rate

Also with effect from 1 July 2019, the rate of contribution to the pension scheme will be reduced from 10 % to 9.7 %.

This reduction derives from the actuarial assessment of our pension scheme, which makes it possible to determine the rate needed to finance one third of our future pensions, with the other two thirds coming from the general budget.

The salary update applies to the basic salary and most allowances, while the pension contribution is due only on the basic salary. The combined net effect of these two changes will be + 2.2 %  ( for the active staff, while our retired colleagues will only benefit from the + 2,0% effect), but will vary according to each individual’s situation.

Union Syndicale hopes that this update, backdated five months from mid-December ( on average 11% and 10% for the pensioners) will brighten up the holidays for you all.

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