CERN Accelerating science

Portrait: Yves Sillanoli, Staff Association delegate since 2004

I worked at CERN as Contractor’s personnel for 18 years, and in 2003, I became a staff member.

By nature, I am someone who enjoys getting involved in associations. For 35 years, I was a member of a sports association in my community. Therefore, for me it was natural to want to reach out and help my colleagues, especially those with professional experiences similar to mine. Moreover, even though both my father and my brother had worked at CERN before me, I really wanted to understand the inner functioning of the Organization. To this end, I decided to run for staff delegate and was elected to the Staff Association in 2004.

Joining the Staff Association has been, above all, a chance to meet people: Gianni Deroma, former President of the Staff Association, and Philippe Defert, who passed away in 2013, were great listeners and had a real sense of mutual help. Philippe Defert influenced greatly my decision take part in the Association and, over time, a remarkable bond grew between us. He trusted me to find my own place in the Staff Council. Gianni Deroma showed me the ropes of becoming a delegate, Philippe Defert convinced me to become one, and Alessandro Raimondo, also a former President, encouraged me in my decision to take on more responsibilities.

What does it mean to be a staff delegate?

If one becomes a delegate for personal interests and questions, there is no point in running for office. The commitment must be genuine.

Being a delegate requires human qualities and, among other things, selflessness. We love people and want to help them. For me, it is second nature. Also, in order to help others, to listen to them and advise them, it is crucial to feel comfortable in your own skin.

What are my roles in the Staff Association?

Over the years, I have integrated and been given increasing responsibility. I have been a member of the Staff Council, co-Chair then Chair of the Commission In-Form-Action. In In-Form-Action, we strive to cover all topics that concern the Staff Association and not just the themes that fall under our mandate.

My activities in the Commission In-Form-Action

My way of chairing the Commission aligns with participatory democracy: I strive to delegate work and engage participants of the commission by giving them responsibilities. You have to know well the members of your commission to be able to trust them with missions they can enjoy. For me, chairing a commission is first and foremost a chance to learn from others and to take interest in individuals so that they feel valued and want to commit to their mission. I regret, however, that certain delegates stopped coming to the Staff Council shortly after their election.

My first task as the chair of the Commission was to put in place a welcoming program for new delegates. We created the Charter for the Delegates, a committee for events, extended the mentoring of new delegates, transformed the system of Staff Association notice boards, and modernised the White Week, now called VICO (Visit colleagues). It is a chance for us to go meet members of the personnel and discuss the various concerns they may have. Feedback from the field is essential for the Staff Association and it is the role of the delegates to make that connection. The White Week is also a chance to talk to our colleagues about the Association and motivate and encourage them to join as members and become delegates.

My activities in the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is the “political” organ of the Staff Association, where we discuss all the issues and decide on orientation. I have been nominated to the Executive Committee to represent, among others, the technical personnel of the Organization, but also in the role of the Chair of the Commission In-Form-Action.

Recognition of the delegate work and percentage of work

The recognition of the delegate work should be done in groups and sections. However, often the work carried out in the Staff Association is little or poorly understood by the hierarchy.

The percentage of working time each person allocates to the Staff Association is evaluated by the President of the Staff Association according to commitments and assigned roles. The President of the Association can also be required to fix objectives.

I consider my commitment to the Staff Association as a significant driving force. It allows me to get out of the routine and to discover talents that I did not even know I had. For me it is a “win-win” situation for the Organization and the member of the personnel. The Management should take this into consideration. That is my wish for 2017 and the years to come.