A union for eurocrats is on the warpath over plans for a 40-hour week -It would have been absolutely hilarious had it not for the fact that the is EU facing its worst crisis to date, with falling living standards and redundancies now a fact of life for people across Europe.
claiming the move would hit the balance between work and home life.
Some of the best-paid civil servants in the world are being asked to
agree to work another two and a half hours a week as a cost-saving
measure in the midst of mounting pressure from national governments to
cut the EU administrative budget.
Number-crunchers in Brussels say putting in the modest extra hours will
save EU taxpayers one billion euros a year (GBP870 million).
But one of the staff unions representing workers with pay and conditions
which are the envy of national civil servants across Europe is refusing
to negotiate on the increase.
All civil servants in the main EU institutions - European Commission,
European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers - enjoy the same scale
of pay and perks.
And many senior staff work long hours, despite the official norm of 37
and a half hours per week.
Now the Equipe d'Union Syndicale, the European Parliament's joint trade
union, has sent round a message rejecting the call for longer hours.
A group of union officials put their names to a letter declaring: "The
unions and staff associations replied to this proposal with a
They say working a 40-hour week would have a "very negative impact on
reconciliation of working and home life".
The statement adds: "The attractiveness of the European civil service
European Parliament staff already have Fridays off in the weeks when
European Parliament plenary sessions are held.
And most staff finish at lunchtime on Fridays the rest of the time.
But some insisted today that staff put in long hours, far in excess of
the official 37 and a half hour week.
On the other hand they can operate a flexi-time system, balancing short
days by working longer hours another day.
And they enjoy time off in lieu for hours over 37 and a half per week -
even in senior management positions.
But Conservative leader in the European Parliament Martin Callanan
insisted today that those fighting the change should "get real", in the
midst of the economic cutbacks being suffered across Europe.
"Public sector staff the world over are facing cutbacks and wage
freezes," he said.
"But here in Brussels they seem to think they live in an economic
microclimate where money grows on trees and the world owes them a very
He added: "The Brussels pen-pushers, just like many of the politicians
here, just don't seem to get it when it comes to the economy. Austerity
measures are being taken everywhere, but somehow they think the EU is
"They need to get real and start to talk to us about how they can help
Europe out of this crisis."
As we've noted before, it's almost as if these people go out of the way to be unpopular with ordinary citizens.