Thursday, December 03, 2009

Stuck in the past

Following the revelation last week that 38,000 civil servants working for the European Commission are in line for an inflation-busting 3.7% pay rise for salaries, pensions and allowances this year, 15 EU member states have recognised that this is a step too far in this time of belt-tightening and have blocked the Commission proposal. Those countries blocking the pay rise include the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and six member states that joined in 2004.

Absurdly, the pay rise is based on a calculation of civil service salaries in 8 of the richest member states, and a cost of living allowance for Brussels. The legal service of the Council has warned member states that departing from the formula could be vulnerable to a legal challenge - and the unions have not missed their chance to urge the Commission to take the issue to the ECJ (although it would have to be the Commission, and not the unions which filed the legal challenge.)

A representative of the Union Syndicale revealed just how hopelessly out of date the formula is when he described it as an "honest bargain which has given us social peace for 20 years."

A pay rise formula which is 20 years old? How many institutional and EU Treaty changes have we seen in the last 20 years - and yet there has been no change in the way that Commission staff's pay is calculated?

Interesting, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had a bit of an expose yesterday, breaking down all the perks and allowances that EU civil servants get. It quoted one senior EU official saying that living abroad, the rationale behind such generous compensation, is "really not such a pain anymore" adding that "actually it's hard to get most bureaucrats to leave Brussels these days". No sh*t Sherlock - with working conditions so obviously insulated from the real labour market why on earth would you give up a cushy number in Brussels?

Just to put this pay rise in a bit of context, public sector pay in Latvia has been cut by up to 25% during the recession, and Ireland has planned to cut 1.3 billion euros from the public sector wage bill, not to mention the pay freeze announced by Alistair Darling for many UK senior civil servants and NHS staff, and more.

So the question here really is, should Brussels and those working in the EU institutions be protected from the economic recession, which is affecting public sector workers across member states? If so, why?

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are in a recession, and the eussr should take the responsibility ofr a large part of it because of its over regulation, and braindead manner of dealing with it. Why should these nonentities get an above inflation pay rise let thm go on strike, hopefully they will stay out for years, and then their input won't make matters any worse thatn they have already achieved. Civil servants are a dime a dozen, they can easily be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Typical grabbing civil servants with their " Sod you Jack I'm alright " attitude.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Anonymous these unelected parasites being overpaid on jollies abroad. The billions we spend in Europe would go some way to clearing our deficit and allow us to make some recompense for what we are asking our troops to do on our behalf. Why are the rest of Europe so hell bent on us being there, they need us as they have always done so, we are the most stable and least volatile of any nation who defend peoples rights. Come on politicians start standing up for your people. God save the Queen. P M Constant.

Patrick Barron said...

I am an American, so I take a neutral position on internal EU matters; however, I wish my government's bureaucrats would go on strike and never return.

Arthur said...

Totally agree. We will not notice if they strike other than positive consequences. Please go ahead.

chrissy said...

If you do a non-job, what difference does striking make? Will the EU grind to a halt?

David Barneby said...

Let them all go out on strike ! Lock them out ! Sack them all ! They won't be missed ! Do I understand correctly there are 700,000 ?

Anonymous said...

No surprise their,I work for a large international company,and whilst working in Belgium earlier in the year,we bumped into a senior manager from the Brussels branch,he commented on how the recession has'nt affected him at all,no surprise there.It will all end in tears,how many times in history have euopean states joined together without it ending in war,be warned,it would easily happen.

Anonymous said...

What good news this is. Hope they stay on strike for ever!!!

We are all fed up subsidising the EU gravy train and our politicians denying us a vote as to whether we want to stay on the hugely expensive bandwagon!!

peter sulway said...

Great!! this is first bit of good news that I have ever heard coming from the EU. The money it will save GB is great and I hope that they never come back from strike as that will leave us alone to get on with our lives without all the interference we get at the moment.
P sulway

Nick Ellis said...

While they are striking they won't be claiming their oversized salaries and won't be coming up with intrusive initiatives to make life difficult for the citizens of EU members. In an ideal world our political leaders would tell them to take a running jump and they would stay out on strike until Hell freezes over. Sadly we don't live in an ideal world - after all the EU exists - and we don't have political leaders with enough backbone to do what is right instead of what is convenient.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it would be better for all if they stayed on strike. There are many more deserving causes than to throw more money at this undomocratic shambles of a European Union.

We are in an economic crisis and all they can think of doing is going on strike.

However, I am sure that our spineless leaders will give in.

Anonymous said...

As the general opinion seems to be in agreement. The EU powers should take note of public opinion.....that would be radical!
Hopefully the strike will become entrenched and permanent.

Anonymous said...

This is hardly the time for pay increases in the public sector. Clearly a lesson for Member State national governments here when making pay deals with the people who work for them. But, perhaps this was what they wanted.

Refusing a pay increase to EU officials working in the Council, alongside national member state civil servants, and in the Commission won't save much money - simply because there aren't as many as people think.

The European Parliament is an easier target. Whilst MPs at Westminster have been under the spotlight and heat lately, MEPs over the water have escaped similar scrutiny and shame. You can still find some who defend employing members of their families as staff. Others also still find the time to have second jobs. If you take being an MEP seriously, you wouldn't have time even to write a regular column in a national newspaper. Though some seem to (or perhaps they get others to do the work for them whilst they are busy making a name for themselves and lining their pockets!)

Anonymous said...

Politicians from all corners of the EU must be loving this!

Manuel G said...

"One of the EU civil servants' trade unions wrote a letter to its members arguing that "the member states are misusing the economic crisis to rob us of our fundamental right to preserve the purchasing strength of our salaries", and demanding that member states "respect the rules".

This sort of bleading-heart self-justifying "sod you" attitude of the EUSSR's so called (un)civil servants is just another nail in the EUSSR's already very low credibility.
How is it that they are unaware of the financial pain the rest of their paymasters, i.e. EU taxpayers, are suffering? Is Brussels in another galaxy? Is day to day knowledge of the real world so devoid in Brussels?
Meanwhile, they are keeping all their taxfree &/or tax generous perks without any qualms.
Now they demand more from our shrinking pots.
Have they no shame? Arrogance, insesitivity & just plain 'snouts in the trough' greed sums up the EUSSRS's uncivil servants.
Go on,do us all a favour, go on strike and don't ever come back.
The EU may then only begin to balance its books, said more in gest than hope.

DBarr said...

Not much room for doubt there about how highly the euro'servants' are valued and how little they would be missed. The nerve in demanding an inflation-busting rise at such a time (not to mention perks to die for) shows how totally divorced from reality these people are. No-one elected them or asked for them; euro-empire-building is just a curse and an undemocratic incubus. Could they just go away and stay away and stop interfering in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Let the useless bastards go on strike - and withold their pay whilst they are on strike. Let's have an old fashioned lock out. Don't let them back into work until they abandon their strike and return to work without a pay rise. They are lucky to have a job - millions haven't.

However, I know it won't happen and the employers will cave in.

Anonymous said...

I would be glad for my wages to stay the same - I have just had a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

I would be glad to keep my wages the same having just had a pay cut - never mind a rise. It is a case of let them eat cake if you arent a civil servant. Would anyone notice if we got rid of the lot?

Anonymous said...

This is a bit all one sided! (though that's not surprising!) Would we really benefit if EU officials stayed on strike?! Surely, what they do is not all bad! Have you ever wondered why mobile phone operators suddenly all decided to cut the costs of calls and SMS for roaming in Europe?!

Anonymous said...

Biggest problem with the formula is not that it is 20 years old, or even that it refers to 8 rich member states, but that it is a lagging indicator, so it takes account of economic conditions as they were more than 12 months ago. Thus according to the formula, the civil servants should get a pay rise now, but a massive cut in 2011 and 2012. The formula needs to be synchronised with current conditions, so that pay conditions stay up to date and the EU taxpayer can understand what is happening with EU salaries.