The EUROCONTROL section of the USB takes an active part in consultation and technical meetings with management. However, we are finding it difficult to meet your individual expectations. Indeed, two prominent members of our delegation are on long-term sick leave. We are therefore taking this opportunity to call on the driving forces of our trade union at EUROCONTROL to strengthen our delegation.
If you are willing to take on the role of trade union representative, do consider becoming an associate member of our executive committee. We are open to all proposals. Last week, on Thursday 21 September, we attended a consultation meeting with the Director General, and on Friday 22 September, we continued our discussions in a technical meeting with management. You will receive a full account of these discussions in the report of the consultantion meeting, but we would like to share a few key points with you here.
- The USB reiterated its support for the proposed increase in our contribution rate to the pension scheme. The proposal, which is supported by all the social partners, will be submitted to the Provisional Council. We must ensure that our Pension Fund is financed in the long term. There is no imminent risk in this regard, but it would be prudent to increase our contribution rate now to ensure a stable future. We hope that the Member States will also be keen to secure pensions in the long term and will accept this increase (staff contribute 1/3 and the Member States 2/3).
- The USB expressed its full support for our EUROCONTROL colleagues seconded to ECAC. A proposal to scrap bonuses and compensation was submitted for consultation. This proposal is totally unacceptable, and we will take all possible measures to ensure that it does not pass.
- The USB clearly expressed its wish to see our teleworking rules evolve. We are advocating 20 teleworking days abroad instead of 10 and a maximum weekly teleworking rate of 60% instead of 50%. The experience of teleworking during the health crisis in 2020 showed that working remotely is possible. New teleconference and remote access tools have proven effective in facilitating collaborative work outside the office. All international organisations and the EU institutions are either in the process of modernising or have already modernised their teleworking rules, and it is time for EUROCONTROL to do the same.
- The USB set out the difficulties encountered in initiating several performance action plans (PAPs) and called for the behavioural problems in a service to be beter defined within a clear framework. We asked for the immediate suspension of all ongoing performance action plans, and for the deletion of the word “behaviours” in RA No 3 concerning the performance and development cycle and the drawing up of the appraisal report provided for in Article 43 of the Staff Regulations. We asked for it to be made clear that a behavioural problem is not necessarily linked to performance. Article 12 of the Staff Regulations refers to action or behaviour which might reflect adversely upon an official’s position. Since a PAP is initiated solely on the basis of Article 43, the impression given is that this could lead to a decision to dismiss the staff member concerned under Article 51 although a disciplinary measure under Article 88 is another option that could be considered if there is reason to impose a penalty. We were strongly supported in this request by the FFPE, USEF and the Central Staff Commitee, who put forward their own arguments on the mater. Unfortunately, neither our request to suspend ongoing PAPs nor that to remove the word “behaviours” from RA No 3 was granted at the meeting. Nevertheless, the discussion highlighted the shortcomings of the current texts. The PAP process must be clearly perceived by everyone as an opportunity to handle a problem, within a specific framework and with the support of HR experts, with a view to resolving it as quickly as possible. To have a chance of being successful, the process should not be described in the texts as triggering a dismissal procedure. Management will make counter-proposals to this effect.
- In collaboration with USEF, the USB submitted a whole series of proposed improvements to the service regulations. We communicated these proposals to you before the meeting with the DG. The Cabinet of the DG undertook to include these proposals in the consultation work, separating provisions which must be approved by the organisation’s Member States from those which can be implemented directly by the Director General. TUEM asked for the various proposals to be presented in separate papers for a second reading so that a conclusion can be reached within the next four months on a case-by-case basis.
- The USB expressed its support for the proposals giving staff the possibility to call on a body external to the Agency in the event of a complaint concerning the protection of personal data. We believe that it is right that staff should be able to consult an external body to handle such maters. We insisted that staff should continue to be able to submit complaints to the DG if they so wished. We made specific comments on how Article 92 of the Staff Regulations could be worded to reflect this, in line with EU texts on the subject.
- The USB made some purely technical comments on the proposed updated text of RA No 6 on leave. There is nothing of great importance to mention on this matter other than the fact that the devil is in the details and that this was not our last word on the matter.
- The USB asked that work be resumed on RA No 40 on violence and harassment at work. In 2019, at the time of the publication of the Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190) by the International Labour Organization in Geneva, the USB requested that RA No 40 be revised to bring it into line with this international convention. In June 2023, Belgium and Germany ratified the Convention, bringing the number of EU Member States to have ratified it to 7, and the number of countries to have ratified it worldwide to 31. We reiterated our conviction, voiced in 2019, that the recognition of an isolated act of violence is fundamental and that, in many cases, such an act of violence would be beter dealt with from the angle of violence at work rather than as a corporate security problem (Office Notice 29/17), as is currently the case.
- The USB asked that work be resumed on RA No 1, which aims in particular to increase the number of alternates for Staff Committee representatives on the various joint commitees. In addition, we asked that the Office Notice on the Joint Commitee for Disputes also be revised in such a way as to allow the Central Staff Commitee to appoint two full members and two alternates instead of one full member and one alternate. This should facilitate the work of these joint commitees and, in particular, make it easier to plan the meetings of the Joint Commitee for Disputes with a view to reducing delays.
Bernd Hill or Jean-Michel Galais will be available on Friday afternoons to respond to all individual requests from non-operational members. Please make an appointment for a telephone conversation in this timeslot, if possible. We will also reply to any emails during this time. Operational members can contact Willem Van Leuwen or Erik Van Ingen at any time.
We look forward to hearing from you or meeting you.
Your USB-EUROCONTROL delegation