Second SCC meeting of the year 2023


2nd SCC meeting on 9 March

As we said in our ECHO 400, for transparency and to ensure all staff are kept up-to-date about our discussions with the Administration, the Staff Association is sharing our understanding of the exchanges during the Standing Committee on Consultation (SCC) meetings with you.

This year’s second SCC meeting was held on 9 March in a rather tense atmosphere, notably on the subject of travel.

Institutional and official travel excluding home leave: The Administration's Technical Working Group on Travel

First some background: at an SCC meeting in June 2022, the Administration announced its intention to make savings on the travel budget and, without prior consultation, to introduce the systematic reimbursement of accommodation expenses on the basis of actual costs. The SA objected to these measures.

During the September 2022 SCC meeting, the Administration returned to this issue and proposed to set up a group of technical experts, including SA representatives, and to broaden the scope of the discussion to cover not only official travel (e.g. to conferences and workshops), but also statutory travel (such as travel for home leave, travel for family reasons and travel expenses to enable children of staff studying outside the local area to visit their families).

The SA agreed to participate in this working group of technical experts, in order to better understand the Administration's ideas and to see if any proposed changes could be in the interest of the Members of the personnel as well as those of the Organisation.

This soon appeared to be a mission impossible.


At the March 2023 SCC meeting, the proposals put on the table, supposedly justified by the objectives of fair treatment and administrative simplification and rationalisation, were as follows:

  • Regarding arrival and departure travel, the proposal was for the members of the personnel and fellows to replace the current method of reimbursement (actual expenses) by a flat rate per country currently applied only to students and GRADS. On this occasion, it also became apparent that the reimbursement method applied since 2014 to students was knowingly modified without concertation and never brought to the attention of the SCC.
  • Concerning missions, the proposal remained the same as that of June 2022, i.e. to reimburse accommodation costs exclusively on the basis of the actual cost, and to remove the possibility, provided today by the rules in force, of preferring to be reimbursed by a lump sum (the Daily Travel Allowance - DTA).
  • With regard to the Staff Regulations and Rules, the current provisions being presented as an "anomaly" (the previous Directorates which proposed these provisions to the governing bodies of the Organisation and those which approved them will certainly appreciate this description), the Administration has proposed to delete the reference to the Daily Travel Allowance (DTA). However, it should be noted that staff members and their families are entitled to a lump sum (DTA) for travel on taking up duty, termination of contract, change of duty station, missions, and travel for family reasons.
  • For other types of travel, the working group did not have time to make mature proposals. Nevertheless, the preliminary ideas on the table were to replace the current method of reimbursement by a flat rate per country currently applied only to students and GRADS.

The position supported by the Staff Association was and remains to preserve the principles it is committed to defend in the interest of the personnel such as:

  • The principle of geographic granularity in making travel reimbursements, the current method considers not only the country but also the final destination. This ensures that travellers are treated fairly. A flat rate per country is not acceptable.
  • The calculation method used for home travel for the past 40 years, automated and implemented in EDH since 2002, is already a simple, streamlined, and satisfactory administrative process.
  • The principle of the daily travel allowance (DTA) must be preserved. The fact that DTA is only applied during missions is not an anomaly and should not justify the removal of a right of staff and family members in the Staff Regulations and Rules.

In this respect, since no joint proposal could be drawn up, even less agreed in the SCC, the Staff Association indicated that such changes, which affect the financial conditions of the employed members of the personnel (Chapter V of the S&R), could not be made outside a five-yearly review and that these discussions should therefore wait for a future one.

The Staff Council confirmed this view and, on this basis, opposed the proposed changes and the continuation of discussions in the Technical Working Group.

The Staff Council further mandated the SA delegation to the SCC to make the following statement:

"Staff Council opposes the proposed changes to the reimbursement of travel expenses, which is a social and financial condition of employment for staff, as defined in Annex A1 of the S&RP and therefore no changes can be made to it outside of a five-year review." 

The SCC Chair has requested a legal opinion on the merits of the SA's position. To be continued.


Official travel: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Following the publication of CERN’s second environmental report, a working group was formed with a mandate to develop recommendations for updating the Official Travel Guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from official travel. In particular, the working group was asked to

    •consider how to empower and encourage CERN Members of personnel to make climate-friendly decisions when planning their travel to and from CERN, and

    •examine the infrastructure and framework necessary to continue and increase remote participation at events whilst ensuring their optimal quality.


The working group requested that the following principles be incorporated into Administrative Circular No. 33 (Missions): 

    •Assessment of the need to travel (as opposed to virtual alternatives) 

    •Priority be given to environmentally friendly means of transport (taking into account all other aspects including the efficiency of transport and the preservation of proper travel conditions for the Members of personnel going on mission in the interest of the Organization). 

The Staff Association (SA) has of course supported this approach but will monitor developments to ensure that proper travel conditions are indeed preserved.


Working Group on career development

A progress report was presented. 

As a reminder, after a phase I of data collection, phase II resulted in the approval of only one recommendation out of the 6 proposed (a programme of career development discussions with those in a personal position or who reached the maximum of their grade). This discussion programme enabled persons in a personal position or who reached the maximum of their grade to engage in discussions with their hierarchy and the Human Resources Department, and also to establish potential actions to give new dynamism to their career progression. 

Out of a population of 127 active members of the personnel, 23 responded to the interview invitations, 17 interviews were scheduled and, according to our latest figures, 11 interviews were successfully completed, with the following results: 5 employees were maintained in their current functions with a renewed sense of motivation or confirmation of the usefulness of their job; 4 took on new responsibilities in their work, including 1 who became section leader; 2 benefited from internal mobility (one becoming a supervisor).

These career development discussions will continue to be offered as part of the Learning & Development Group's package for ALL members of the personnel reaching 113% of their grade.

The other recommendations have yet to be concerted within the SCC.


Working Group on internal justice at CERN

The Working Group's progress report was presented. Here are the most important points: 

Training was given to members of the Joint Advisory Appeals Board (JAAB) and the Joint Advisory Disciplinary Board (JADB). 

A summary of the report submitted by external experts, mandated by the Working Group, on the review of the internal justice system at CERN was also presented at the meeting. The report aims to:

  • Explore the strengths and weaknesses of existing mechanisms at CERN  
  • Compare with good practices and patterns observed in other International Organizations. 
  • Propose recommendations on how to increase the effectiveness of the mechanisms of CERN and strengthen their independence and professionalism.

The next steps will be:

  • Examine the Working Group's principles for reforming the internal justice system.
  • In the second phase, the external experts will be asked to prepare a proposal for the structure of internal justice at CERN and the applicable rules.

This work is considered to be very important by the Staff Association, which looks forward to the Working Group's forthcoming recommendations.


Deduction of allowances received by a non-family member

The HR Legal Service has requested an amendment to Article R IV 1.08 of the SRR concerning the non-accumulation of family benefits for members of the personnel employed and members of the families to include non-family members (e.g. an ex-spouse). 

The Staff Association is not opposed to the amendment and has obtained that it should also be stated in our legal texts that members of the personnel, not being aware of the benefits received by a non-family member, cannot be held responsible and consequently accused of fraud.

Special working hours

The HR Legal Service proposed an amendment to article R III 1.10, in order to allow the Director General to decide on compensation and remuneration for overtime worked during duty travel in the context of projects such as DUNE.

The SA supports this amendment and has asked that the conditions for compensation/payment to be specified in the relevant Administrative Circular.



The SA asked for a number of topics to be added to the agenda:

  1. Follow-up on the package of measures to reduce the impact of the inflation and electricity prices.

The Chair of the SCC explained that the Management hoped that the Council would vote in March to grant additional contributions to the Organization. The possibility of a reduction in the scientific activities of CERN has not been considered for the time being.

The Staff Association maintains its request to be involved in the discussions, from the earliest possible stage, to understand the impact on the members of the personnel, through the activation of the Strategic Concertation Forum.

The Chair of the SCC acknowledged this.

  1.  Why should people continue to badge at the entrance to the CERN site?

In response to this question, the Legal Service cited security as the reason, in accordance with Operational Circular No. 2.

  1. Concertation: the SA has made a statement to demonstrate that concertation is very regularly ignored by the Management at SCC meetings, which is the forum for concertation.

The SA pointed out the following dysfunctional issues:

  • A tendency to only make presentations at SCC meetings, which are not subject to the obligation like SCC documents to be made available to the Association 5 days before the meeting. How can a proper preparation for concertation can be done under these conditions?
  • The general intention to reduce the scope of concertation, including, for example:

    • The absence of annual reports from official bodies such as the Safety Policy Committee (SAPOCO) and the CERN Learning Board (CLB), which are no longer presented at SCC meetings. This has resulted in changes to regulations that have not been concerted.
    • Changes in practices/processes without prior concertation (e.g. changes in arrival and departure travel packages for students).
    • The increasing importance of the "Admin e-guide", which has no legal value, jeopardising the internal justice system.
  • The regular refusal to work in SCC sub-groups in favour of the Administration's Working Groups, to which the SA is only invited with non-concerted mandates, non-joint participation and the impossibility to prepare the concertation.

Concertation is difficult, the legal texts subject to concertation have been emptied of their substance in favour of the "Admin e-guide", which is not subject to concertation, all subjects affecting members of the personnel are treated through the budget impact angle, and progress is difficult.

The voice of the members of the personnel must be preserved and heard more than ever.