Friday, April 08, 2011

Gad its tough working in the European Parliament

Really it is, much worse than working elsewhere, I wonder why we do it.

What? You don't believe me. Well the staff Committee of the European Parliament has produced a survey of staff attitudes, and I can tell you all is not well in the Towers of Babel. Called the Well-Being at Work survey it makes salutary reading for those who do not have to suffer the indignity of being a Eurocrat.
The survey questionnaire was sent via email to 7900 colleagues: 4722 permanent staff members, 1639 temporary and contract agents, 1539 parliamentary assistants.
And there was an impressive 19,93% response rate. But we work hard, Oh so hard,
The survey revealed that recourse to overtime is a quite everyday practice in order to meet work commitments. Over the last 12 months, with various frequency, 68,83% of concerned colleagues worked during free time in order to meet work demands; 37,61% more than 10 hours a day, 43,64% outside the standard work timetable (evening, week-end).
I mean trying to fit all that governance of Europe stuff into the statuary 37.5 hrs a week is tough. And almost 40% had, at least once, worked a 10 hour day. Call a freaking ambulance.
Around 50% of respondents consider always or often their work to be stressful (48,75%); to feel exhausted after work (53,05%) and too tired (53,17%). This has inevitably an impact on private life, 42,2% find that the job always or often prevents them from giving time to partner or family.
It is one of those permanent annoyances of life that having a job means that you cannot be with your family. Deal with it.

Now look at this bit. It appears that not only is working for the European Parliament stressful, bad for your family and might make you miss lunch once in a while, we are also the victims of an extraodinary amount of workplace grimness,
Concerning harassment, revealing results can be identified by comparing the data obtained regarding the EP Secretariat and those given by Eurofound for 27 EU Member States in its Fifth European Working Conditions Survey. 15,64% of respondents in the EP had experienced verbal abuse at work against 10,8% reported by the Eurofound as average level in 27 Members States; 16,18% of colleagues who replied considered themselves to be a victim of threats and humiliating behaviour against 5.0% in EU27; 16,72% of the EP respondents declared having experienced psychological harassment against an average of 4,1% in the EU27.
If you work in the European Parliament you are subject to more abuse, harrasment and threats than elsewhere. I tell you it is awful, here we are trying to create a Europe of peace, harmony and compulsory kittens and this is how we treat each other. It's a disgrace that these things can happen.

So why are we so selfless? Why do we suffer al these dreadful slings and arrows. Well maybe it is to do with this, the month pay table (In Euros),

Not forgetting these extras
Family allowances, which, depending on your family situation, consist of:

the household allowance (2% of salary + EUR 170.52);
the dependent child allowance (EUR 372.61);
the pre-school allowance (EUR 91.02);
reimbursement of educational expenses up to a limit of EUR 252.81, double in certain cases.

Other allowances
The expatriation allowance (16%) or foreign residence allowance (4%); these percentages apply to the basic salary;
The secretarial allowance: awarded on a personal basis to beneficiaries before 1 May 2004 (C4/C5: EUR 131.84 – C3/C1: EUR 202.14).
Protection of secretarial work in case of promotion to grade AST 7: compensatory allowance(link externaltype doc)
So now you know. You mustn't mock I think we deserve sympathy and care. (Oh and those nice EU plates on our VAT free cars).


Anonymous said...

Of course you forgot taxes and did not precise that the VAT exemption applies only once. Much less advantages than diplomatic staff in Brussels or elsewhere. But I assume that your work in a political party where several MEP have been found guilty of robbery (one of them even jailed)and another considers women don't clean behind the fridge enough must be rather stressing.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... as much as I would like to agree on certain points, making fun of harassment sort of killed it off for me.

Gawain Towler said...

Anon, 1
Sorry, oh yes the VAT exemption only applies once. Of course, that's tough. The poor taxpayer will bleed for us.

People working on the parliament/Commission are not diplomatic staff. They are civil servants, who live a rarefied, well cushioned and short-houred life far removed from normal mass of population.

Yes UKIP have had an MEP banged up, and we applaud the authorities for doing so. Do tell me why is that relevant?

The work in UKIP is fun, and yes I do work many many more hours than my statuary 37.5, but I don't whine about it. And hammering the concept into your skull, but the fridge comment was a joke. Hard to conceive of it in European politics, but there you have it.

Anon 2
I am not making fun of harassment. But I do find it astonishing that figures for such are so high in the Parliament. I suspect that though some undoubtedly goes on, highly driven people and those with ambitions are likely to behave in selfish ways. Indeed it might be more instructive to see the level of harassment compared to national parliaments, rather than broad national averages.

That being said I also think that the eurocrats are precious, I think and have personal knowledge of significant faux medical absenteeism and the any excuse to remove responsibility aspects of work in the institution. It is part of the milleu

Anonymous said...

Having a thorough knowledge of the millieu, as you put it, myself, I could agree with many points you bring out, incl your remarks about absenteeism on medical grounds etc. Nevertheless, harassment (or the feeling of being harassed) is a serious issue and I resent it when people make light of it (which you do). For me it falls into the same category as, for example, making light of gender equality within institutions, which is yet another disease of the millieu... Or would you claim that this too is yet another imaginary problem which should be brushed away on grounds of the remuneration table you posted? "Gad it is tough being a woman in the European institutions... what are you complaining about, they pay you well enough" I am sorry but your post screams the latter.

Gillig said...

You are Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland,Highly Harrassed Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Annual salary of £270,000, plus a chauffeured car, ...

Anonymous said...

@Gilling; that's exactly what I meant. I rest my case.

gillig said...

No rest for you, the EU fridge inspectors are on their way!
I will rest my case when the unelected, overpaid, unwanted and useless EU bureaucrats are no longer funded by my tax money; whatever their genitalia.

Gawain Towler said...


We are on sticky ground with 'the feeling of being harassed'.

If you accept anybodies self diagnosis on an issue like that we start to cause huge problems.

Harassment/bullying exists. But because somebody is demanding that doesn't make them a bully. The same treatment to two people could in one create the conditions for superlative performance, in another could feel like harassment.

So is it harassment, or is the person who feels that they are harassed in the wrong job?

You know I have seen and dealt with egregious sexism in the institutions. I have also seen some female civil servants of my aquaintance take the piss royally and claim sexism where none existed.

It is tough, but those who abuse th system for theor own personal benefit make it harder to see the real problems.

And these problems are worse in the EU institution's than I have ever seen or heard of elsewhere

Anonymous said...

@Gawain As I said, I actually agree with many points that were raised and are being raised. And I also agree that they should be raised. More often. But these issues are serious, be it abuse of the system or harassment etc, and I resent when they are treated lightly or brushed off in the end by the remuneration excuse. Generalising and then brushing things off with detached cynicism (at least this was my perception of the blog post) is hardly going to have an impact. It somehow echoes the inner thinking of those who wouldn't want anything to change. And in my opinion the system badly needs a shakeup in both mentioned senses and many more. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to comment on the article at all.