Looking back

In Echo No 215 we announced that we are archiving old publications of the Staff Association, in particular the issues of the Staff Association Journal. To relive with you some interesting moments of the 60-year history of the Association, that we celebrate in 2015, we plan and reproduce a few articles of this magazine in Echo. We start with an article, which shows how the executives of the Association, which was just born a few months earlier, saw its role in these early days.

As a curiosity we reproduce page 16 of the Staff Association Journal of July 1956 (next to the text), which shows the age distribution of the CERN staff. The average age was 33 years. At the end of the year 1956, CERN had 396 employees, including fellows (to be compared with 114 and 260 at the end 1954, and 1955, respectively).

At that time, there were no CERN pensioners yet. Which is not to say that nobody mentioned the Pension Fund. Indeed, the Staff Association Journal, N° 7 (May 1956) was devoted to a presentation on the Pension Funds drafted by the CERN Administration. Then, N° 8 (June 1956) indicates that the Committee of the Association has devoted most of its recent activity to the study of the project of the Pension Fund, as prepared by the Administration.

Some people are going too far

(Staff Association Journal, N° 2 November 1955)

It is 5 months since the Association came into being, it is now a reality and everybody is today able to see and appreciate some of the tasks, which have been undertaken. We shall draw up a list of these at the end of the year but we would take this opportunity to think about the meaning of our Association and the part it has to play inside CERN.

Everyone - and this is quite normal - has his own point of view upon this question and amongst all these opinions, we would like to put forward our own.

There are people for whom the Staff members Association is a kind of all-mighty organization which has the power of solving all the problems and settling all the difficulties arising in CERN, whatever they may be.

There are people for whom the Association is a luxury which every administration or well-organized society can afford in view of assuming a modern aspect and eventually justifying certain unpopular measures. For these people the Association is of no use and is nothing but an instrument of the Administration.

There are people for whom the Association is a kind of headache, an. Organism meant for throwing them from the comfortable little nest, which they have built for themselves, and with this idea in mind, they doubt its value. For these people, the Association is the one who threatens to deprive them of their privileges - or of what they think are privileges. They do not show indifference towards the Association but try in a way to interfere with each of the schemes it wishes to carry out. We for instance heard, certainly as a joke, but an unfriendly joke, that “We shall stay in CERN as long as the Association does not kick us out”.

There are people who think that our Association is a fighting organism, with its troops, its spies, its “double agents”, with of course all the relative methods.

Other people believe that the Association is only looking after certain categories of staff members, trying to obtain for them privileges that other Categories will not be given.

In fact, this is not the case! All these people are going too far and although it is extremely difficult to express in a few lines a point of view, we would like to bring more light upon this question.

The scopes of the Association are clearly determined in Article 2 of the Statutes and although this text establishes the outlines of our Association, we have still to define the spirit in which we envisage performing our task. We first want to insist upon the necessity as we did in our first bulletin, of developing a spirit of mutual comprehension and collaboration between members of the staff and the directing body of CERN and between the staff members themselves.

It certainly may happen that we do not have the same point of view of the Direction of CERN upon certain problems but the study of opinions, even opposed can be the occasion of highly interesting exchanges of views which are often very profitable.

Objectivity and research of truth remain in one of the main lines of conduct of our Association.

We also retain as very important another chapter of our activities programme: Advise and help staff members. A large number of staff members come to ask us advice or to tell us that such or such measure displeases them. In this case, we carry out our policy, which is to help staff members. We have then to bring light upon some misunderstanding, we have to find the source of small troubles and we very often indicate to the interested people what is the best way to put everything right. Sometimes we help directly the person and take ourselves the step, which we think, is the most efficient.

If' we were finally asked to give in a few words the definition of' what we think is the part the Association has to play, we should answer without hesitation: to help staff' members. We would like everyone to be conscious of this and not to think any longer that the Association is going to upset everything or that it is merely a straw man. It is only one of' the internal institutions which will help CERN to reach the aims established.


by Staff Association