Brussels 6th of October 2022,
The role of a chauffeur in the Commission has been increasingly under threat in recent years. Workers in this group (mainly contract agents) continue to be subject to numerous violations of their rights and to repeated unequal treatment. Union Syndicale has appealed to the administration and submitted two complaints against unlawful and discriminatory vacancy notices with regard to this group of colleagues.
The Commission’s Chauffeurs pool is managed by the Office for Infrastructure (OIB).
The “COMMUNICATION OF THE COMMISSION – Internal provisions concerning the organisation of the Commission’s Transport Service – of 6.7.2011 – 4904 (2011)” foresees under point 2.1 that “drivers must be engaged as contract staff (CA 3a) under Article 3a of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants (CEOS) in function group I (FG I)”. They may not be promoted to a higher function group. Moreover, point 2.1.1. § 3 of the Communication states that: ‘Drivers shall be selected in agreement with the Members of the Commission following an interview and shall come exclusively from the Commission’s pool of drivers.’
Since President Juncker took office, the Security Directorate of DG HR (DS) has continuously tried to take up the posts of OIB chauffeur, particularly those attached to the President and the Vice-Presidents.
When Ms von der Leyen arrived in Brussels with her own German ‘Close Protection Officers’ from the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the Security Directorate immediately took advantage of this to further promote their services to the President under the substantial budgetary resources at her disposal as well as the support of the President’s Cabinet.
The HR Security Directorate plans to create a “Security Driver Service” within its unit and with a view to achieving this they published an AST vacancy notice for a VIP/security chauffeur to allocate this post to the President’s chauffeur who had passed an official competition.
That vacancy notice, therefore, offers a position and status which cannot be accessed by a Commission chauffeur, who is a member of the contract staff, having nevertheless followed the rules applicable to him. It therefore creates, within a population who carry out the same functions (whose main tasks are the same), conditions of access to different statuses, which are much more beneficial for newcomers than those applicable to the current pool of chauffeurs.
Furthermore, the fact of classifying the post sought as ‘VIP’ and adding the term ‘Security’ to it through the vacancy notice cannot authorise the administration to apply the rules which it laid down for itself by the adoption of the internal provisions, to choose its chauffeurs only from the pre-existing pool of chauffeurs.
It is clear that the DS used this VIP/security qualification to try to take undue ownership of chauffeur posts.
Moreover, since the beginning of the year, the drivers of the OIB’s Transport Service are no longer replacing the President’s chauffeurs , but rather the DS ‘Close Protection Officers’ (CPO). This is at odds with the rules laid down by the Commission for the management of passengers’ transport within the Commission.
Union Syndicale intervened and supported a complaint submitted by the chauffeurs with the result that that vacancy had been cancelled. But immediately afterwards, another vacancy was announced in July 2022, which was almost identical to the first one, against which Union Syndicale provided legal support for a second complaint.
The growing number of ‘Close Protection Officers’ recruited by the DS and the fact that they try to create and take up chauffeurs posts is a dangerous sign for the future of this profession. This situation, and the failure of our administration to comply with the rules, is giving rise to real concern among chauffeurs, particularly among young contract staff, about their future within the institution and that of the Transport Service.
The Executive Committee
Union Syndicale Bruxelles