Dear Colleagues,

In five weeks, with a spring in our step and a feeling of accomplishment, we will leave for a two-week break. Time for end-of-year celebrations, leisure activities, and a well-deserved rest. And we will have certainly deserved it considering that the results obtained from the LHC go far beyond any we could have expected, as the Management said itself. We can be proud that everything is going well. But is it? Almost, because a few days before we leave on holiday CERN Council will make decisions relating to the five-yearly review – 5YR (health insurance and salaries) and our pensions.

For the time being, fortunately the TREF meeting on 4th November concluded with a positive consensus on all the subjects examined. The Member States supported the Management’s proposals which were previously discussed at great length in the SCC. But these are still declarations of intent, not decisions, so we remain on our guard. The next meeting of TREF is on 25th November.

In the meantime, now that this long process of study and discussions has reached an end, the time has come for us to brief you on what has happened and for you to let us know what you think about our actions in a staff poll. It is important to do this, so do not miss this opportunity.

At our lastest public meetings on 8th and 10th November, we explained to you the situation, as analysed by the Staff Association, after the TREF meeting on 4th November*. Last Thursday, the Management also defended its proposals, as was right and proper, and presented its vision of the situation. We think along the same lines, if we take each subject separately. So much the better, because this has not always been the case.

But all things considered, after doing the maths on our salaries as a result of the two subjects at stake, the figures do not add up. The issue of our take-home pay in 2011 has still not been settled. This problem is so crucial for the Staff Association that it has continually brought it up before the SCC, TREF and Finance Committee, despite arbitration by the Director-General which did not go our way. This has become our third subject of the eleventh hour.

To have this 5YR end on a positive note, despite the very difficult economic situation in many of our countries, shows the solidity of the arguments put forward to the Member States. However, if things stay as they are, this review will end on a negative note for more than half of us, those who already earn the least. We repeat it once more : this is socially unacceptable.

Everyone here knows that even the greatest physicist is nothing without the magic fingers of our very capable mechanics, welders, and other brilliant technicians, without forgetting the indispensable role of the administrative staff. This goes without saying. It is indeed the foundation on which is built the team spirit which prevails in a wonderful equilibrium of quite distinct competencies. It is this team spirit that has led CERN to its past successes.

So why this desire to "punish the small people"? All the Director-General would need to do is break the deadlock, by explaining the facts to the Member States. We are convinced that they would not remain indifferent to them, all the more so since in-house solutions exist, at no additional cost to them.

This problem must be rapidly solved, the Staff Association has said it before and we are sticking to our guns. The social cohesion of the Laboratory is at stake. In front of us we have even greater challenges than those already overcome. It would be a shame to demotivate the staff. Staff Council has decided to put pressure on the Director-General, by forwarding useful proposals to try and overcome this last stumbling block. But to do this, we need everyone’s support, in order to tip the scales in our favour. Now it is your turn to tell us what you think by voting.

The electronic poll will start today and be open until midday on Friday 19th November. It concerns three subjects: Health Insurance + Salaries, Pensions and Take-Home Pay. We thank you all in advance for voting and for supporting the Staff Association. See you soon with the results of the poll.

* Staff Association presentation with and details on the final proposals : 

by Staff Association