Flash september 2020 US Council

The administration at the Council managed the impact of the lockdown on our working methods with intelligence and flexibility, and did a better job than other
institutions. Union Syndicale thanks the administration for showing such good judgment.

The communication of 28 August from the Director-General of ORG seems to point to a gradual lifting of restrictions/’de-confinement’. However Union Syndicale has a number of questions in that respect. The number of new cases recorded daily in the Brussels Region is rising again, to the extent that the region has been classified as a red zone by many Member States. Travel to Brussels is therefore strongly discouraged and stringent quarantine measures are applicable.

How, then, can it be reasonable to encourage colleagues to come back regularly to work in the GSC offices? Is there not a stronger case right now to insist on
teleworking? And would it not be better to continue with teleworking from abroad rather than requiring returns from green zones to a red zone? More generally, how does the Council envisage a return to normal business whilst ministers and delegates are being advised to avoid the Brussels region?

Union Syndicale is particularly concerned to read in the same communication that the exceptional rules/’derogation’ relating to telework from abroad are
ending this Friday, 4 September. We do not understand the reasoning behind this change. We call for the extension of these exceptional provisions – and certainly
at least as long as Member States consider Brussels to be a high-risk area. We had previously read in one of the COVID-19 updates that the Appointing Authority intended to impose a limit of twice per career on the possibility to telework occasionally from abroad (new agreement between the unions and the Appointing Authority that entered into force on 1 February). In response to inquiries by the unions, the Director-General of ORG confirmed that this was the Appointing Authority’s intention.

Union Syndicale does not accept this unilateral departure from the agreement, which is not in the interest of our institution. Reintroducing an artificial barrier
makes little sense. The future will be one of hybrid working practices, combining presence in our buildings, missions and telework from various locations. Our colleagues will achieve optimum productivity when they are allowed to carry out their duties in a flexible way, with their preferences taken into account.

Discover the latest Flash of septembe 2020 from US Council here.