Defending the Staff Regulations
Member States have wanted to reduce our pay and working conditions for many years – for budgetary, ideological and most often populist reasons. A few years prior to the May 2004 enlargement to ten and then twelve new Member States, they demanded that this should be done at the least possible cost which meant that the Commission was forced to propose changes to the Staff Regulations. Union Syndicale rejected this diktat from the Commission and Member States and, thanks to staff mobilisation, we forced the Commission to negotiate to ensure that the reform of Staff Regulations did not become a dismantling of the Regulations. The other trade unions refused to take responsibility, adopting an empty-chair policy and opting instead for attack, demagogy and empty rhetoric instead of defending staff interests. However, recognising that reform was inevitable and that the results of the negotiations conducted by Union Syndicale safeguarded the fundamental rights of European Public Service, in particular its independence, competence and permanent nature, the other trade unions finally signed and approved the final package agreement.
The Commission proposed a new reform of the Staff Regulations in 2011 in the context of the 2014-2020 multi-annual financial framework negotiations. The aim of this was to address the demands of the Member States. Union Syndicale once more led the way in the fight to preserve our Staff Regulations and the working conditions of all staff working in the European Union public service. This was the first time the reform needed to be adopted through co-decision. Unfortunately, the extremely radical positions of certain Member States, the weakness of the Commission in defending the staff and the need to satisfy various political groups in the European Parliament produced a result which is far from satisfactory. The lack of fighting spirit of the other unions, who naively preferred to rely on the Commission and the Parliament to influence the Council, also contributed to the result. The impact on the staff’s working conditions is far from negligible : transition to a 40 hour week without any compensation, a two year salary freeze, the creation of a new sub-category of staff (AST/SC) with significantly worse pay conditions and career prospects, an increase in the retirement age, a reduction in pension rights, the blocking of careers, … The only positive, yet extremely important, point is the new method for the annual adjustment of salaries and pensions, which becomes fully automatic – also in the event of any serious economic crisis. This will ensure that certain Member States will not, for populist reasons, deny European Union civil servants the salary adjustments that they give their own civil servants, as was the case in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2015, the new Method has been applied for the first time, and gave + 2,4% of the net salaries for all staff.