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EU workers' unions: Commission's proposal 'quite unacceptable'

EU workers' unions: Commission's proposal 'quite unacceptable'
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The EU Commission has finally released the document on public servants regulation.

Essentially it means a 5 percent reduction of staff between 2013 and 2017, an increase in the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours and a delay on the retirement age from 63 to 65.

Using the economic climate of crisis, cuts and restrictions all over Europe as justification, the draft – which is to be discussed with unions in the coming months – vows to make savings up to €1 billion from 2014 to 2020.

One billion euros! It sounds like a lot of money, but let’s put things into perspective:

The EU is often presented by eurosceptics as a bureaucratic giant swallowing huge amounts of money to pay public servants’ salaries. Well, in their useful document Myths about the EU budget and the Multi-annual Financial Framework the Commission points out that the EU’s administrative expenses are about 5.7 % of the EU budget.

Salaries account for half of that, so around 2.5 % of the EU budget. The current financial framework (2007-2013) is 975 billion so salaries are, roughly, around 24 billion.

Well, 1 billion seems to be not much. Especially faced with the threat of a pan-institution public servants’ strike.

On Thursday unions met the President of the Commission José Manuel Durao Barroso and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. Union sources told euronews that the proposal is ‘quite unacceptable’. They will decide in the coming hours if they are to maintain the strike threat for next Friday, but hostilities may be postponed until september, sources said.

Asked why did they sign the strike notice even before knowing the Commission’s draft, sources say that there’s a climate of mistrust after the 2004 staff regulations reform which led to important cuts in work conditions and opened the gate to ‘contractual’ workers, who now make up around 20 percent of EU staff.

So, it seems the battle will remain on a truce until the end of the Summer the proposal to adapt the work conditions to the EU economic climate may lead to a very fractious social climate inside the institutions.