2011: What a year!

What a year it’s been, and what a way to end it. The star of the show has been the LHC, along with its experiments, which have again turned in an Oscar-winning performance. But there has been a strong supporting cast of actors ranging from antimatter to the CLOUD experiment.” This is what the Director-General wrote to us on 20 December in his message with his wishes for the festive season. And, do not forget, the famous hyperfast neutrinos toward Gran Sasso that put CERN on the front of the world stage.

These achievements which are the pride and strength of the Organization were made possible “thanks to the hard work of all CERN’s staff,” as noted by the Director-General in his New Year speech of Wednesday, January 11. He reviewed the year 2011 and set out the challenges ahead in 2012 and beyond.

The scientific and technological achievements of 2011 are a great satisfaction to the Director-General, his team and all CERN staff. Moreover, despite a rather worrying economic situation in most of our Member States, the Management was able to have the 2012 budget and the medium-term plan until 2016 approved. This allows a certain guarantee for the consolidation of our welfare system, pensions and health insurance.

For the Association, 2011 was not an easy year either...

It was the subject of pensions in particular that occupied us in 2011. We did not agree with the conditions that Member States proposed for new members and beneficiaries of the Fund as of 1 January 2012. For several months we tried to convince them to consider our own proposals which we judge to be fairer. However, in the end, only a small positive evolution was possible and, despite our strong action of 22 June 2011 (occupation of the Council Chamber on the day of the Finance Committee), the new rules were approved on 23 June, the final contribution rate for the new staff remaining to be defined.

Recall that in a follow-up of the package of the 2010 five-yearly review (5YR 2010) and to recognize the efforts of the staff in the success of the LHC, in January 2011 the Director-General awarded a bonus of one thousand francs to all staff still active in 2010. For fellows, who according to the Staff Rules were not eligible to receive this award, the Association obtained additional training of the same value.

After the nomination of a mediator (Ombuds) in mid-2010, the new procedure for handling harassment cases was finalized and codified in Operational Circular No. 9. The President and members of the investigative panel (HIP) have been nominated. A Diversity Officer was nominated to complement the organizational structure which must ensure compliance with the CERN Code of Conduct.

Throughout the first half of the year, the rules of our health insurance (CHIS) applicable from 1 January 2012 were reviewed for final approval by the Director-General. For its part the manager of the CHIS, UNIQA, has adapted its management information system so as to be able to simultaneously process claims submitted according to the old and the new reimbursement schemes.

The year 2011 saw many natural disasters around the world. The CERN staff showed their generosity by participating massively in the collections co-organized by the Association and the Management for the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, floods in Pakistan, the earthquake in Turkey, famine in the Horn of Africa and, more recently, the floods in northern Italy.

Our work plan for 2012

In early 2012, the actuary of the CERN Pension Fund will report his findings on the effect of increased longevity on the contribution rate. We expect an unpleasant surprise when it will be proposed to make only new recruits pay for this increase. Indeed, this rate will rise significantly from their current contribution, where for greatly-reduced benefits they pay the same as pre-2012 staff. This situation is highly unacceptable. Before a final decision is taken we will propose that a new full actuarial study be performed as soon as possible, taking into account the new generational longevity tables for all members and beneficiaries of the Fund. These results will give a more objective picture of the efforts needed from the different parties to balance the Fund on the time horizon considered.

While pensions will surely occupy us for a good part of the year, many other important issues will be treated in the coming months. This concerns our health insurance (implementation of the new benefit scheme and the further clean-up of the CHIS Rules), careers (MARS assessment after five exercises1 , monitoring of the implementation of the CERN Competency Model − behavioural and technical skills − in the various administrative procedures such as recruitment, evaluation of the probationary period, the 2012 MARS exercise, obtaining an indefinite contract, the introduction of the Bologna classification scheme and the inclusion of validation of experience in CERN’s job classification system, the long-awaited implementation of the career development interview). But there are also equal opportunities (the interface between the Ombuds, the HIP and the Diversity Office1), contract policy (CBRC assessment after five years), internal mobility1 (better planning, more options), working time flexibility (work arrangement on a weekly basis, work from home, consolidation of programmes at the approach of retirement, follow-up of the SLS). Finally, an internal working group will reflect on an optimal way to organize the mode of operation of the Staff Council (number of delegates, structure of the Bureau and the Executive Committee, guarantees regarding time). To keep you informed of progress on these topics will be the subject of articles in Echo during the course of the year. In short, we will not sit around twiddling our thumbs!

The vast majority of these themes reflect the priorities expressed in staff surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009. To ensure that these concerns are still valid, a constant dialogue between you, staff members, and your Staff Council representatives is essential. Please do not hesitate to contact your Staff Council delegates (see the list of the new Staff Council members for 2012–2013) to enrich the debate with your suggestions, comments, questions, points of view. Your input really makes a difference by contributing new ideas which will be extremely useful in our discussions with the Management and the Member States. Remember that you are the strength of the Association!

And, as we are still in January, it is not too late to address our best wishes for the New Year to you and the members of your family.


1 See also the HR questionnaire.

par Staff Association