In their end-of-year message, the Director-General of DG HR and Director of OIB informed us that “this year, extending the usual practice of closing most buildings during the end of year holiday, many buildings will remain closed during the first week of January […]. This will further reduce our energy consumption”.

Furthermore, the Commission stated in its decision on hybrid work that “Teleworking would also contribute to reducing CO2 emissions arising from staff commuting and the resulting congestion, particularly for those who drive to work, and would therefore contribute towards supporting the Commission’s efforts, under the European Green Deal2, to become climate neutral by 2050”

Savings, but for whom?

It is now clear that a large part of the Commission’s heating costs and greenhouse gas emissions have simply been transferred to its staff!

During the negotiations on the Decision on hybrid work, the Union Syndicale had already drawn DG HR’s attention to this because instead of heating a large number of buildings, hundreds of households would need to be heated. To this end, we asked OIB to produce an impact assessment before introducing such grandiose statements in the Decision. We have not received a reply : What about the carbon balance? Is it more constructive for the planet to heat a single building or 500 separate households? Has OIB carried out a serious impact assessment?

Many colleagues accept this deal. They have their reasons, however, how about the thousands of colleagues who jumped from teleworking by-choice to quasi-mandatory teleworking in the first week of January (yes, staff was offered folding seats in buildings that they did not know)? The increased costs in heating (which is not insignificant) has now been imposed on them. It is no longer a choice.

Union Syndicale had requested and obtained the possibility, in the Teleworking Decision, that “where appropriate, DG HR may adopt a decision providing for a lump sum covering certain costs of teleworking, subject to budgetary availability”. Unfortunately, since the introduction of the Decision, this article has remained unimplemented, despite our repeated requests. For colleagues with the lowest salaries, this would make a real difference.

Finally, in the winter months, the heating in some European Commission buildings was switched off. This certainly resulted in the reduction in costs of heating and reduced the Commissions ecological footprint. However, it conversely resulted in increased quasi-imposed sick leave for many members of staff.

Union Syndicale would like to see the Commission less triomphalistic and less hypocritical.
When will it thank its staff for paying its bills?