EESC – Trade Union spotlights institutional harassment failings “We also sincerely hope that this new mandate is not the Committee’s last.”

EESC – Trade Union spotlights institutional harassment failings “We also sincerely hope that this new mandate is not the Committee’s last.”

In a letter sent on 12 November 2020 to the newly appointed President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Christa Schweng, and to all staff, Unite Syndicale, the body representing staff in the institution,  warned that “the EESC’s future is now very clearly at risk [….] A new President and a “fresh start”, no matter how welcome, will not be enough to salvage the Committee’s sadly tarnished image.”

The European Parliament recently “dealt a body blow to the EESC’s already fragile institutional reputation. In a deeply scathing and unprecedented Decision, the European Parliament has refused to approve the EESC’s 2018 budgetary discharge. “Deploring” the years of “serious misconduct” towards staff and of “inaction by the Committee’s administration”, the European Parliament has reprimanded the EESC political and administrative authorities as never before for having been in “breach of the duty of care.” They have been issued an official warning by the highest elected EU authority. One last chance to redeem themselves, to carry out fundamental reform.”

The letter went on to say that “This is now a full-blown existential crisis of political and administrative leadership at the EESC.”

Giving the opinion of the Unite Syndicale’s “this failed governance model has engendered a deep malaise within the EESC which risks undermining morale and performance. An intrusive and deliberate power push by the EESC’s political leadership to control and indeed exercise the operational role of administration over the last years has led to a state of passive submission by the administrative authority and a manifest failure to stand up for staff. Arbitrary demands on staff by senior Members and allegedly disturbing behaviour have resulted. “Wrong-doings”, the European Parliament has stressed, have been going on for a number of years without proper administrative protection in place, without effective appeal or redress, and apparently, in some cases, beyond the statutory reach of the Staff Regulations.”

Shamefully for the EESC, the European Parliament points out that “suffering” by staff has gone on “for an unjustifiably long period of time.”

The European Parliament based its comments and findings of a recent OLAF report related to multiple allegations of harassment in the institution by a senior Polish member of the Employers Group. The European Parliament had also cites earlier Court cases and Rulings “which illustrate the sort of injustices that can be inflicted on staff when the EESC political establishment turns against you and the administrative authority turns a blind eye.”

The letter also cites previous instances of judgements “This is why the recent OLAF report and EP resolution, grave though they be, are just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the EESC political and administrative authorities had already been severely reprimanded by the Civil Service Tribunal just a few years ago for actually “violating” Article 41 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and not respecting staff’s right to “be heard” before being forcibly removed from their jobs. This damming Judgement, exposed by Unite Syndicale at the time, caused not a stir within the EESC. It was essentially ignored.  The governing bodies showed no remorse or contrition. No apology or atonement. No corrective action for the future. Just antipathy towards those who had embarrassed the EESC authorities and who had exposed them to outside legal scrutiny.”

The Unite Syndicale’s goes on to make a series of recommendations regarding the “restructuring of the failed governance model responsible at the EESC.”

The recommendations, amongst others, call for “a clear act of public remorse and contrition by the EESC political and administrative authorities for the “wrong-doings” that have occurred”;  and an official recognition that the EESC governance model is broken, complicit and no longer viable. “A clear and explicit separation of powers between the political and administrative authorities in the EESC must be restored.”

The Unite Syndicale concludes the statement that similar allegations exist also in the Committee of the Regions.

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