APPEALS AGAINST “REFORM”
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Since 1 January 2014 we have been living under the regime of the “2014 Reform”. At the time, all the trade-unions promised you they would do everything they could to get the Court of Justice to annul a certain number of provisions which were introduced into the Staff Regulations then and which we considered were unlawful.
More than three years later, where are we? Not much further forward. The slowness of Justice and procedural detours have prevented all progress up to now.
1. Appeals before the EU General Court
Several trade-unions brought appeals directly before the EU General Court in the name of officials acting as simple citizens and sometimes also as trade-unions. Three of these appeals were rejected in November 2014 (T-20/14, T-22/14 and T-23/14) because they had been brought by officials who could and should have chosen the normal channel (complaint followed by an appeal with the Civil Service Tribunal). Cases T-17/14 (U4U) and T-456/14 (TAO-AFI and SFIE-PE) brought against the pay adjustments for 2011 and 2012) were rejected in September 2016, because the General Court considered, in part, that the trade-unions did not have standing to act and, in part, that the arguments were not valid.There remains one appeal on which the General Court still has to give a ruling, which is the one brought by Union Syndicale Fédérale (T-75/14). The hearing will take place in June and the judgment should be available in the autumn.
2. Appeals before the EU Civil Service Tribunal
Union Syndicale provided all staff with numerous models for complaints and appealsin relation to several of the amendments made to the Staff Regulations. At the time, refusal ofba complainthad to be the subject of an appeal before the Civil Service Tribunal (CST) and Union Syndicale decided to combine forces with other trades-unions in order to manage the cases jointly. Meanwhile, the CST has disappeared.
The cases pending have been transferred to the EU General Court and renumbered.Most of these cases are still suspended pending the judgment in case T-75/14, in particular those concerning:
- travelling time and reimbursement of costs of annual travel expenses, in particular for colleagues who do not receive either the expatriation allowance or the foreign residence allowance, whether their place of origin is within the Union or outside the Union, as well as for colleagues who receive the expatriation allowance but whose place of originis outside the Union;
- career blockages in AST 9 and AD 12;
- the solidarity levy while salaries were frozen.
Certain other cases, which had been suspended while waiting for the judgments in cases which have meanwhile beenrefused, have now been reactivated:
(a)Reduction in annual leave for staff assigned to delegations outside the Union
An appeal(F-88/14, renumbered T-518/16) has been brought in the name of half a dozen Commission colleagues. The Parliament and Council have intervened and must submit their intervention pleadings in early May ;
(b)Pay adaptations for 2011 and 2012
Appeals have been brought against various institutions for a certain number of colleagues, both active and retired. No date has yet been set for a hearing.
Lastly, there is one matter which is definitively closed, that of the consequences of raising the retirement age. An appeal was brought on behalf of colleagues who had made a request, and then a complaint, in order to obtain a recalculation of their pension transfer rights and repayment of contributions wrongly levied (F-3/15). The Civil Service Tribunal upheld the first part of the case on the view that Article 26(5) of Annex XIII remained fully applicable. That Article allows colleagues who made a transfer of pension rights before 2004 to seek a recalculation according to their new retirement age,without indicating whether it was the age as set in 2004 or the age raised further in 2014.
The Commission brought an appeal (T-231/16) and the General Court overturned the judgement of the CST and issued a new judgment rejecting all our demands. In so far as it was not possible to challenge this decision on appeal, we must unfortunately consider that this matter is closed.
3. What happens next with the appeals?
We knew from the start that the appeal procedures would be lengthy. Suspensions, intervention requests, appeals on points of law, restructuring of the Court of justice, ...: the pitfalls were and remain numerous, and more than three years after the entry into force of the Reform, most of the provisions that we are challenging have still not been examined by the court.
Félix Géradon, Deputy Secretary-General of Union Syndicale Brussels