A correction coefficient for Luxembourg

Tuesday, November 08, 2016 6:43 PM

Dear friends and colleagues,

On Nov. 9th we'll wake up with the name of the new POTUS ("President of the United States").

That same day begins the election of a new Luxembourg "Local Staff Committee" (CLP in French) … not quite as momentuous :-)

However, in the LSC elections you get to vote (which is probably not the case for the POTUS) !

The other good news is that you are not expected to vote for a "President" here.
Instead, while labour unions ("les syndicats") play a role similar to that of classic "political parties", the LSC / CLP is the equivalent of "Parliament" and its President is elected indirectly.

If I write to you now is because here the good news end …

In truth, our LSC / CLP and the labour unions wield very little power, about which I wrote here.

On the other hand you, the Commission staff in Luxembourg, you do have power, as illustrated by the mobilisation in favor of the Contractual Agents two years ago (that, and other actions are illustrated in this video clip, courtesy of JF Gongora from DG ENER)

That mobilisation was made possible by the extent of the underlying injustice and unfairness of treatment that caused it. The injustice was glaring, nobody could deny it.
In a nutshell: the Commission was employing Contractual Agents in Luxembourg paid below the Luxembourg minimum wage, in effect acting as "social dumper" in the Grand-Duchy !

Something comparable has gradually surfaced in the past decade, and it affects all of us, not just a specific category of personnel.

Since 2005, the very official reports from EUROSTAT have shown a significant difference in "purchasing power parity" (PPP) between Bruxelles and Luxembourg.

This gap has grown from year to year and in 2015 it was quantified at 8,1%. For the same pay, a person – say, for instance, a Commission official - has a lesser PPP in Luxembourg than in Bruxelles.

The existence and magnitude of this gap has been implicitely acknowledged by an international organisation, the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) Agency (you know, Norway, Island, Lichtenstein). EFTA employs officials in Bruxelles and Luxembourg. Starting in 2016, EFTA agents in Luxembourg have seen their salaries increase by 8,1% with respect to their Bruxelles-based colleagues.

The Commission though, is reluctant to correct this inequity affecting its Luxembourg-based staff. We look at its arguments here and show they are bogus.
The real reason is … lack of political will
. Nobody (up there, among the powerful) wants to stick their neck out (in the Council) to defend us, Luxembourg-based officials.

And if you expect the labour unions to step in front and defend you, in 9 cases out of 10 you'll be disappointed … With one notable exception, all "lists" you'll be given the choice to vote for in these CLP /LSC elections receive their orders from Bruxelles (and the Bruxelles colleagues see only potential downsides and no upside for them in this affair …)

The only labour union that really cares about this injustice and is currently fighting it on the judicial, communication and political fronts is the one which does not depend on Bruxelles.
That is the Union Syndicale – Luxembourg (US-L), List 1.

Alas, it cannot, alone and by itself correct the problem; but it has done a number of concrete things, such as raising the topic with Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's PM and an ally of us in the Council (unfortunately, the Grand Duchy is not the most powerful Member State in the Council). Other concrete actions of US-L you'll find explained here.

More importantly, US-L can help us all together defend the principle of non-discrimination and equality of treatment enshrined in the Staff Regulations

Thank you for having read this far.

Best regards and appologies to those who felt bothered by this message. It was written in good faith.
There won't be any other from me. On the other hand, if you want to talk to me about anything, please do not hesitate.

Sorin Cristescu
European Commission
DIGIT