2023: First SCC and here we go again!


Yes, here we go again! During this first SCC meeting of the 2023 year, on January 30th, very unsatisfactory exchanges took place concerning the follow-up of the measures that should accompany the crisis levy. 

In the not-so-distant past, at the end of each meeting of the Standing Concertation Commitee (SCC), management and the Staff Association published a joint summary of the issues discussed and the decisions taken in the Bulletin. This approach made it possible to show the robustness of the concertation, the transparency of the discussions, and to inform all the personnel as close as possible to the discussions.
In recent years, our various proposals to revive this tradition have been systematically rejected by the SCC chairs of the moment.
So, the Staff Association has decided today to share its understanding of the discussions with you and will continue to do so throughout the year through staff meetings or the ECHO. However, should management finally agree to work with us to develop common summaries, we will work with them to do so.summaries with us, we would of course work with them.

Here are the main points discussed on January 30:
1.    The moderator of the SCC sub-group on pension fund guarantee, presented the latest developments in this area. 
The guarantee that has been missing in our social protection until now is now given: The Council approved in December 2022 the principle that health insurance coverage is guaranteed even in case of dissolution of the Organisation. A provision to this effect has been introduced in the CHIS Regulations.
It is now a question of determining the practical arrangements necessary to implement this guarantee, probably through the creation of an international foundation under Swiss law (as is currently planned for the pension guarantee).

2.    A first presentation was made on the possible framework conditions for sending CERN staff to Spain and the USA (SURF, South Dakota) to contribute to the LBNF/DUNE project. Discussions will continue in order to better understand the issues and specificities of such a mission for the CERN staff concerned and to clarify the modalities.

3.    Finally, as at the first SCC of each year, the programme of work was discussed, with each party putting forward its priorities. For its part, the Staff Association put the accent on:
    i.    The needed evolution for career development opportunities  
    ii.    The improvement of internal justice mechanisms
    iii.    The review of the missions and organisation of the Medical Service (recently modified unilaterally by the Management)
    iv.    Updating of the CA 14 on the protection of staff against the economic consequences of illness, accidents and incapacity for work.

The Staff Association wished to include contract policy in the programme of work, based on the employed members of the personnel expectation expressed in the October 2022 survey results. Management mentioned that first informal discussions would take place soon to understand the expectations of each party on the subject.
Of course, we couldn’t not come back to the crisis package (crisis levy and other measures that must necessarily, according to the SA, accompany this staff effort).

The crisis levy ... a quick reminder and where do we stand today?

At the invitation of the Finance Committee and the Council in September 2022, Management has developed a package of measures with three components, namely: phasing, reduction and discontinuation of projects and activities; reduction of staff costs; and additional contributions from member states and associate member states. The SA has always emphasized that the staff effort can only be conditional on joint efforts by the staff but also by the Organisation and the Member States. As far as the Member States are concerned, we are waiting for the decisions of the Council to be taken this March.

Furthermore, the Staff Association has proposed that the efforts of the employed members of personnel should be accompanied by a package of measures aimed at preserving the full granting of the CVI and the promotion linked to the MERIT for 2023 and the following years and excluding any other measure penalizing the personnel, including staff reductions:
1.    To ask Management to study as a priority, and implement technical savings measures proposed by the staff when promising, in order to limit the impact of the savings sought by the Organisation on the staff budget.
2.    To postpone investments in new tertiary buildings.
3.    Study and implement as soon as possible the partial and then full internal taxation of pensions paid by CERN.
4.    Carry out, for the year 2023 only, a crisis levy of 2.5% maximum on the base salary, compensated by 5 days1 of leave
5.    Study, propose and encourage voluntary measures such as voluntary departure measures, leave donations, additional SLS tranches, etc. This list is not exhaustive.

If the crisis levy has been implemented and compensated by 5 days of leave to be taken during 2023, and a working group of the Human Resources Department has started its work at the beginning of the year to work on proposals for voluntary departure measures, the status of other points is much more unclear, to the SA’s great dissatisfaction.

Management has informed us that it will give feedback on the technical cost-saving measures proposed by the staff in the near future. The Association was surprised by this reply, since the proposed measures were already sent to management in October, and they had said that they found some of the proposals interesting.   

Concerning the delay in investments in new tertiary buildings, the President of the SCC said that an effective decision would be taken in 2024-2025. How can we take immediate measures to deal with a crisis situation that affects staff and the physical environment, but not decide on the construction of buildings?

Concerning the internal taxation of pensions, which potentially represents a real breath of fresh air for the budget of the Organisation, and which has received no opposition from TREF and even an interest in starting a feasibility study, the Association must go through informal discussions with the services concerned instead of seeing a sub-group of the SCC being established in order to move forward as soon as possible on this subject, in full transparency.

Concerning the potential future impact on CERN’s workforce in the event of the phasing out, reduction or suppression of projects and activities, the Staff Association has requested regular monitoring of the Organisation’s activities and projects, in order to be able to detect the impact on the personnel as early as possible. In order to do this the SA has requested a meeting of the Strategic Concertation Forum (SCF), formally created in 1993 (reference), in order to be able to identify the impact on the personnel as early as possible. Although it has been inactive for many years, the reasons for its creation are once again predominant.

The President of the SCC not only refused this proposal, but also to make it a recurring item on the SCC agenda, arguing that the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) was a managerial decision. This is true, but if the consequences of the MTP affect staff levels, social and financial conditions, then this is a matter for concertation. 

The Staff Association will continue to request that the follow-up on the savings measures be added to the agenda of each SCC.

We will of course keep you informed of the progress of the discussions in our next issues and public meetings!


1 As determined by the Director-General following arbitration requested by the Association


Correction/Amplification: The initial version of the above article included incorrect reasoning regarding the request to postpone investment in new tertiary buildings. This reasoning which was not in the original version of the article (in French) was removed in the evening of 9 February 2023.