‘Major advance’ on staff reforms after union deal

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Series Details Vol.7, No.40, 1.11.01, p3
Publication Date 31/10/2001
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Date: 31/10/01

By David Cronin

Obstacles that prevent talented EU officials from promotion would be removed through a proposal endorsed yesterday (30 October) by the European Commission, internal reform chief Neil Kinnock has predicted.

Under the staff reform blueprint, the current A-D grading system for EU officials would be replaced with one involving just two categories, 'administrators' and 'assistants'. As a result the 'glass ceilings' which mean that 25 of fonctionnaires reach the highest position they can hope for by their mid-forties or early fifties should be eliminated.

Hailing the proposal as "a very major advance", Kinnock said: "When implemented, the changes will help to bring out the very best in the highly able staff by ensuring that their qualities are properly encouraged, assessed and recognised."

He estimates that the plan, which also covers allowances and pension entitlements, should bring the EU annual savings of about €90 million by the end of this decade.

Union Syndicale, which represents 40 of Commission staff, has signed a protocol with Kinnock, assuring that no employee will face a pay cut due to the reforms. One of the union's negiotators, Alan Hick, said: "The protocol has all the guarantees that we needed. I think we've got as much as we could possibly get."

But four of the other staff bodies in the EU institutions are opposing the reform plan and have written to Commission head Romano Prodi advocating that an alternative recommendation should be pursued. Involving just minor modifications to the A-D system, it would mean "fewer risks for the staff of all the institutions", they said.

Responding to their claims, Hick added: "I cannot fathom the real reasons for the other unions' opposition. Their favoured option would be worse than the status quo."

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