CERN Accelerating science

Public meeting on 12 June: thank you for your participation!

Dear Colleagues,

the Staff Association (SA) would like to begin by thanking the employed and associated members of personnel who participated in the public meeting on June 12, 2020. We would also like to thank the CERN audio-visual team who made it possible to record this event, which you can still consult on this link.

To follow up on the topics we discussed and the questions that were asked at the meeting, we will be coming back to various topics over the course of the summer.

The CERN Council week in June has just ended and approved the topics for the next five-yearly review of the financial and social conditions of CERN staff. This first part of the review process is the culmination of preparatory work and concertation between the CERN management and the SA. This work is first of all based on a factual analysis of the recruitment and retention of CERN staff over the last five years.  In parallel with the study carried out by the HR Department, the Staff Association carried out its own analysis to examine whether CERN was recruiting its staff in all its Member States while maintaining the fairest possible distribution between States. This work was initially presented in the framework of the Standing Concertation Committee (SCC) and was also presented at the TREF meeting on 31 March 2020. The analysis of the SA shows a proven and growing difficulty in recruiting in some Member States. Indeed, CERN is today in an unfair situation where the eight countries with the lowest representation (20% of employees) contribute half of CERN's budget. This observation is shared in the five-yearly review documents that were agreed and presented for approval at the TREF on 18 May. These are six documents in total, as shown below:

  • An introductory document on the five-yearly review of the financial and social conditions of CERN’s members of the personnel;
  • A report on the main recruitment markets for CERN staff over the last five years. The report shows that CERN recruits mainly from the private high-tech sector;
  • A report presenting data on the recruitment and retention of CERN staff members over the last reporting period. Our analysis on this subject can be summarized in a few sentences. Widespread recruitment and retention difficulties continue to worsen for five countries, namely the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. In addition, recruitment and retention over the past 15 years remains fragile for Norway, the United Kingdom and Slovakia. Policies capping indefinite contracts have a major impact on recruitment and retention issues, increasing recruitment difficulties and reducing cutting-edge expertise in CERN's specific fields. Improving salary conditions also seems to be a good way of increasing CERN's attractiveness to people from these countries;
  • A document describing the data collection process, which will be carried out by the OECD to compare our salaries with the high-tech private sector, as mentioned above;
  • A document that describes the process of comparing the financial and social conditions of CERN fellows with the major research institutions;
  • The last document describes the proposals for topics that CERN's management wishes to include in the five-yearly review.


The latter document has been further discussed and the initial proposals of the management to include three other topics did not find the support of the SA. Indeed, it was initially proposed to include new diversity measures, but also to carry out a review of the programmes for young professionals (fellowships, PJAS, etc.) and also to include a series of measures aiming to ease the conditions for joining and leaving CERN. Motivated by the survey carried out in 2019, which presented staff dissatisfaction with the measures taken during the last five-yearly review, the Association proposed to add to the menu of the five-yearly review a study aiming to identify and implement improvements concerning the career development. After many discussions, the concertation resulted in a proposal that simply included, in addition to the mandatory part on salaries, a comparison on diversity measures. The review of the Young Professionals Programme will be carried out in parallel with the five-yearly review and the SCC subgroup to study career development aspects will start in autumn 2020. We will be getting back to you on these two topics shortly.

With the Council’s approval last week, the menu for the five-yearly review is sealed and the benchmarking surveys that have been launched at the OECD will provide their first estimates later this summer. To be continued!