Last Thursday, 16th November, was a pivotal day for Union Syndicale Bruxelles (USB) members working at Frontex. A crucial meeting, facilitated by the USB delegation, was held in Warsaw, accommodating both in-person and virtual participants. The session focused on discussing key issues impacting Frontex staff.
Insights from the USB Delegation: The meeting opened with the USB delegation providing an insightful overview of USB and USF's structure and functions. This served to highlight the vital role of the Union in fostering effective union-agency cooperation. The delegation stressed the importance of a framework agreement, noting its significance in enhancing this collaboration.
One of the critical areas discussed was the limitations of staff committees, particularly in facets where unions can offer substantial impact. The delegation emphasized the unique role of unions in providing legal consultations and staff representation, crucial for fair and effective agency operations.
Voices of USB Members at Frontex: The meeting transitioned into an interactive discussion, allowing Frontex USB members to express their concerns and experiences. Significant issues raised included:
- Clarity in Deployment Rules: A call was made for more transparent and clear rules governing staff deployments, a pressing concern for many at Frontex.
- Interpretation of Leave Policies: Concerns were voiced regarding the interpretation of rules, especially related to leave policies for weekend shifts.
- Trade Union Presence: Discussions on the procedures and requirements for establishing a trade union presence within Frontex indicated a desire for stronger representation within the agency.
- Challenges with Unpaid Stand-By Duties: Members highlighted issues with unpaid stand-by duties and the lack of recuperation, affecting work-life balance.
- Isolation from Brussels: There was a consensus on the feeling of isolation from the main body in Brussels, underscoring the need for a dedicated section for agencies.
- Possibility of Staff Regulation Reforms: Queries about potential reforms in staff regulations and their implications were raised.
- Impact of Rapid Agency Growth: The challenges arising from the agency's rapid growth, encompassing staff issues and political dynamics, were discussed.
- Legal Interpretation Concerns: Instances of law misinterpretation or forceful interpretation by Frontex staff were brought to attention.
- Union Membership Queries: Questions about how to join the union, the benefits it offers, and representation in personal cases like harassment were covered.
Forging a Path for Collaborative Solutions: In conclusion, the USB delegation announced an all-staff online meeting for next month, where the next steps for the goal to initiate negotiations for a framework agreement between the union and the agency will be discussed. A physical meeting will be facilitated in 2024, specifically targeting the challenges facing Frontex staff and standing corps.