CERN Accelerating science

2015, the year of all dangers

On Thursday, May 7 many of you attended, in the packed Main Amphitheatre, the crisis meeting organized by the Staff Association. The main aim of this public meeting was to lift the veil on the intentions of certain CERN Council delegates who would like to:

  • attack again and again our pensions;
  • reduce the budget of CERN in the medium term;
  • more generally, revise downward our employment and working conditions.

Since the beginning of 2014 some disturbing rumours circulate about our pensions. Several CERN Council delegates would like to re-open the balanced package of measures that they accepted in 2010 to ensure the full capitalization of the CERN Pension Fund on a 30-year horizon. This constitutes not only a non-respect of their commitments, but also a non-respect of the applicable rules and procedures. Indeed, the governance principles stipulate that the Pension Fund Governing Board ensures the health of the Fund, and, as such, alone has authority to propose to the CERN Council stabilization measures, if necessary. It should be noted that, to date, there is no indication that the measures in question do not meet expectations; the interference of the CERN Council is thus unjustified.

As if this were not enough, the package of measures proposed by CERN Management intended to mitigate in 2015 the increase of the contributions of the Members States expressed in their national currencies following the Swiss National Bank’s decision on 15 January 2015 to discontinue the minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 per euro, found no consensus among the Member States. The Management had to withdraw its proposal, but the difficulties for the Members States to face this increase remains.

Finally, these attacks come at the worst time for us since we are in the final phase of a five-yearly review exercise. This review is intended to verify that the financial and social conditions offered by the Organization are able to guarantee the attractiveness of CERN. In this atmosphere of attacks and threats, we fear the worst.

Not only for us, the Staff Association, but for you all, employees and users of the Organization, the absolute priority is the optimal running of current projects and the realization of future scientific projects. Investments to launch these projects, in particular the HL-LHC, must be made now. A decrease in the budget, as mentioned by some delegates, would be catastrophic for the long-term future of the Organization. Some delegates arrive at CERN with economic viewpoints eying only the very short term. We know that austerity does not function, a fortiori in basic research, where one should take a long-term approach to enable discoveries tomorrow and create high value-added jobs the day after tomorrow.

It is thus more than worrying that some delegations become agitated without reason and contaminate others. This must stop! We ask respect for commitments and procedures, and, above all, respect for the CERN personnel, who offered Nobel prizes and many discoveries to European and global science.

All together, we must act with determination before adverse decisions are taken. We ask you to inform a maximum of your colleagues so that all the staff (employed and associated members of personnel) can say NO to jeopardizing our Organization.

The video and the slides of the crisis meeting are available at https://indico.cern.ch/event/392832/.