Summer and Autumn activities

Time to recharge the batteries, and much more…

The summer holidays are an ideal opportunity to spend more time with the family, to discover new countries, make new friends, in other words to take time away from the daily grind. This recharging is essential to your work-life balance, and CERN, as a modern and socially responsible employer, has recognized this as a central part of its human resources policy.Nevertheless we should not forget that, while many of you enjoy a well-deserved summer break, some of our colleagues are hard at work making LS1 (first Long Shutdown) a success in order to guarantee that at the beginning of 2015 the LHC will be able to start physics in an energy range never before reached by mankind.

Preparing the questionnaire and the elections to the Staff Council

During this summer your delegates in the Staff Council are hard at work preparing for the upcoming five-yearly review whose content will be decided by CERN Council in June 2014. Therefore, as every five years, to prepare the concertation with Management in the SCC and with the Members States in TREF, we are putting together a detailed electronic questionnaire for distribution to all CERN staff next October. With that questionnaire you will be able to express your opinion on your employment conditions and how you would like to see them evolve. On top of that, at the beginning of November, there will be elections for the new Staff Council, where Staff Association members will choose their representatives who will discuss with Management and Member States during the two essential years 2014 and 2015.

There is a lot of work to do in the Staff Association in order to be ready in early Autumn. By the end of September, me must finalize and make available the questionnaire. During the first week of October we will organize public meetings where we will present this questionnaire and announce the upcoming elections. In the second week of October your delegates will visit your departments and groups for a more direct and personal contact between you and your representatives.

Helping colleagues disappointed by contract and advancement policies

Every staff member has recently received via his/her supervisor a notification with the outcome of the MARS 2013 advancement and promotion exercise. The fact that this time all staff members have received a personal letter, not only those who have had additional steps or were promoted, has been greatly appreciated. Nevertheless, as in previous years, several of you who are amongst the 532 staff (23% of the eligible population for advancement), who got only one step, have contacted us to express their astonishment and their feeling that they were treated unfairly with respect to the more than three quarters of their colleagues who got two steps or more.

Ever since the introduction of the MARS system in 2007, the Staff Association has stressed on several occasions that its considers MARS not to be adapted to the CERN work environment, where group collaboration and team work are essential elements for the success of the Organization. Indeed, MARS puts too much emphasis on individual performance and competition to the detriment of collaborative efforts. In the upcoming five-yearly review the Staff Association will propose an evolution of the MARS system towards an approach emphasizing working together to make the team stronger.

Autumn is also the time of the LD2IC exercise, where a certain number of indefinite contract (IC) positions are opened for which limited duration (LD) contract holders can apply. As we explained in our public meetings in May and in recent editorials in Echo, the current contract policy constrains the number of LD contracts that can be converted into an IC to less than 200 over the three years 2013 to 2015. This means that during that period only about 40% of LD contract holders will be able to stay in the Organization. Moreover, this percentage varies substantially between sectors of activity. It should thus come as no surprise that colleagues on an LD contract who have not seen an IC post being opened in the domain of activity where they work at present, are starting to contact us.
The Staff Association plans to propose, in the context of the upcoming five-yearly review, an alternative, innovative and ambitious contract policy that optimally exploits the experience of staff who can stay long-term, thus allowing CERN to maximize the return on investment of the billions of Swiss francs that Member States have dedicated to the Organization.

No time to rest

As you can see, many things are happening between now and the end of the year. As pointed out above, we attach a lot of importance to providing consultancy to individual staff members who ask us for our advice or support. Our Standing Commissions are also working hard to ensure that we will be ready with the questionnaire and for elections on time.

But we also need your support. Therefore, we hope that we can count on you to give us your feedback by filling in the questionnaire, by voting massively in the elections for the Staff Council, and, even better, by standing as a candidate in those elections. A lot of work remains to be done and the contribution of everybody is needed and will be very much appreciated. Combining the experience and efforts of a maximum number of staff will make us all stronger.

by Staff Association