Who are we?
Our ballot integrates members of CGT-CELLS syndical (union) section and independent candidates.
Why a section? Why a union?
A union section is a tool for collective action by a group of affiliates and has full autonomy in its operations. The CGT union, with its experience in many institutions and companies, provides support, counseling, infrastructure and facilitates coordination with other collectives and representatives of workers. At the same time it guarantees full autonomy in decision-making while the status of a legally established union provides us with certain instruments and legal coverage in the exercise of our functions.
We believe that unionization of workers is very important because it breaks the inertia and sense of isolation in situations of abuse and gives possibility to defend their interests by means of collective action. Due to all the above reasons we encourage CELLS workers to join a union, being it ours or any other union. Like we have done for the last 4 years, we will continue to seek maximum collaboration and consensus with other union sections operating within the CELLS.
How does the section operate?
Center of decision-making is the assembly of members of union section. We form a solid, sizeable and an experienced group which functions in a collective way since the establishment of the CGT-CELLS section 4 years ago. We meet on a regular basis to discuss issues and particulars of the labor reality of laboratory life and make decisions regarding types of interventions we consider most appropriate. Thus, our representatives to the Works Council will have space for collective debates and decisions regarding the issues faced by the Works Council. Apart from being a space for debates, the collective and permanent work of the union section increases working capacity as more resources are being involved and not only those provided by delegates to the Works Council.
2.- WHY DO WE RUN AGAIN FOR ELECTIONS?
Because we believe that our modus operandi has been successful and has significantly improved the position of CELLS staff as compared to the initial situation. There are several examples when actuation of workers and their representatives allowed to set limits and improve the outcome of negotiations we faced during our period in the Works Council.
Because we have learned. We started with great enthusiasm and desire to work. Over the years we built infrastructure that allows us to function and acquired a know-how that must be preserved. On the other hand, we consider that it is good to rotate and that participation in the Works Council is not “professionalized”. That is why we are presenting a list which combines new faces with members of the present Works Council. In the end, people who are elected to the Works Council as well as those who are not, will actively participate in the project of CGT-CELLS union section, contributing with their experience to the discussions that will guide activities of new delegates.
Because we have built an infrastructure that provides us with an efficient legal and technical counseling. We want to take maximum advantage of this infrastructure for the service and benefit of all workers of our institution. At the same time, we have been building relationships with other bodies of workers representatives in the neighboring area (UAB, HP, APPLUS, etc), thus enabling us to create networks and take advantage from the experience of our neighbors as well as to provide mutual support when needed.
Because we are able to adapt to new realities. We experienced significant changes over past four years in our laboratory and we adapted to the specific circumstances of each moment involving different levels of tension. One of our current priorities is to maintain and strengthen the bridges of dialogue with the Administration of Consortium without losing the sight of our goals. We believe that although interests of workers and administration are different (and sometimes completely opposed), the existence of open and fluid communication channels always benefit both sides, facilitating agreement-reaching and looking for negotiated solutions to the challenges being faced.
Because we want to continue pushing for giving the leading role of the Works Council to all workers. We want to ensure that decision-making is in the hands of the affected people and to promote their direct participation in negotiations with management whenever possible. We have NEVER signed and will never enter into agreements that are not endorsed by those affected. We see our role in Works Council as that of representation. Therefore we have to convey the demands and proposals from staff and accompany the negotiation process in the most effective way by putting our experience and infrastructure at the workers’ disposal.
3.- PRIORITIES AND PROPOSALS
3.1.- Fostering participation of workers.
We have always tried to keep staff well informed on the important subjects. We have organized meetings with the affected workers before establishing the position of Works Council on the different issues at hand. Our decisions have never been taken without the approval of workers or against what workers have manifested.
We keep our commitment not to sign any agreements without having had it voted by the affected workers.
We also maintain our commitment to further promote the involvement and debates among workers using any available means at our disposal: emails, section blog (sincontrol), meetings and whatever we consider necessary to achieve this goal.
3.2.- Relations with Management
We note that the new Administration of the Consortium has facilitated the establishment of the bridges of dialogue, which we have positively valued and exploited. There have been many arrangements from within the Works Council and CGT-CELLS section seeking for solutions for particular problems and establishing informal contacts with members of management for this purpose.
We know that many of these efforts were not made public, which is just natural, so we believe it is worth of mentioning now. On some occasions, the exchange of information and proposals within these contacts has enabled finding partial or complete solutions on important issues.
However, there are still too many examples when CELLS management has disregarded the opinion of the workers’ representatives at the time of decision-making. The last and quite notorious one was the modification of the Operations Schedule for 2013 due to the failure of the cooling system. Indeed, on last June, Management introduced substantial modifications of the working conditions for a large fraction of workers without any consultations with their representatives. Following an initiative by CGT-CELLS, the Works Council urged Management to start conversations exploring ways to reduce the negative impact on affected workers and possible compensations for the extra effort. On this occasion, Management agreed to negotiate and formally apologized to the Works Council for not having discussed modifications in advance of their implementation. Apart from talks about possible measures to reduce the impact, Management accepted to introduce economic compensations for the affected members of staff.
We are aware that we still have a long way to go and that there are important aspects where the new Management has not gone past the declarations of good will. However, we firmly believe that whatever the elements of disagreement are, dialogue in all its forms is a fundamental and indispensable instrument for conflict resolution. We reassert our commitment to work for consolidation and reinforcement of formal and informal channels of dialogue with the Administration of CELLS.
3.3.- Elimination of fixed-term (temporary) contracts
On the grounds of economic cuts, CELLS is now hiring new workers using fixed-term contracts of “works and services” (3 years maximum) for positions which are clearly structural, as shown in the organogram of the consortium. A considerable fraction of staff currently has this type of contract, the majority of these positions being “structural” (not temporary by the very nature of these positions and functionalities assigned to them) - beamline scientists, operators, occupational safety and health, surveying and metrology, etc.
Reducing the usage of fixed-term contracts has been our priority from the very beginning. Actually, since we entered Works Council and started to address the issue of temporality, the amount of fraudulent fixed-term contracts (ca 30% initially) was reduced significantly by gradual reconversion into permanent contracts. However, as previously stated, since 2012 the situation has degraded again in the wale of government imposed restrictions for hiring policies in public institutions.
This new increase in temporary hiring, that condemns a large fraction of employees to an uncertain future, has made us to refocus on the problem and look for new ways to affront it. We have explored possible legal actions as well as have been in communication with CELLS Management regarding possible solutions.
We all know how deeply one’s personal life is affected by uncertain labour future. Its consequence is a permanent threat of losing ones job and the inability to plan for future (try getting a mortgage, for example). Widespread use of fixed-term contracts has a negative impact on many aspects of the work environment and makes more difficult for employees to claim and enforce their rights ( “...tell me again please, are you really not willing to volunteer for this task…?”).
We will keep working on this issue, looking for the best possible solutions and aiming to achieve the conversion of fixed-term contracts into permanent positions
3.4.- Working for Equal Opportunity environment.
One of the issues that must be included into our working agenda is the elimination of discrimination at working place. We have solicited CELLS management to provide Works Council with staff’s payroll information, to analyse existing situation and subsequently present suggestions for improvements.
Regrettably, CELLS management consistently denies us access to these data despite the legal obligation to disclose the information. Anyhow, while we are waiting for the official resolution from the Department of Labour (“Inspección de Trabajo”) with respect to this issue, we have begun working on this subject from within the CGT-CELLS section using several approaches. A small working group has been created that keeps track of the issue and works on analysing the current situation at CELLS with the data that we have. Despite the limited nature of the information we are dealing with, we have been able to come up with first approximations and to publish results in our blog. We have also started networking with other collectives, e.g. AMIT - “Association of Women Researchers and Technologists” ( Spanish equivalent of AWIS in the US) who deal with the same issue.
From within the CGT-CELLS we will push ahead elaborating proposals that help to correct and eliminate existing inequalities.
We will continue rising awareness and elaborating measures for conciliation of working life with family and personal life for women and men, to increase the quality of life and promote shared responsibility for tasks/roles traditionally assigned to women.
3.5.- Working to ensure safe work environment
After having worked hard for 4 years on the subject of occupational health and safety, and having invested many hours of work, we can see important advances in this matter at CELLS. The staff of the Safety group has been increased by hiring professionals in the field of occupational health and safety. Previous ASEPEYO technicians assigned to our laboratory have been substituted due to their low quality performance. On-site presence time of ASEPEYO technicians at ALBA has been increased.
Direct counselling of workers and intervention in particular cases upon request from affected persons has been established as our priority. Thus, we have acted as intermediaries between workers and their superiors on occasions when there were serious doubts about the appropriateness of preventive measures for assigned tasks. On several occasions we have assisted persons who were victims of situations with elements of harassment and workplace violence. We have been searching and providing information to colleagues on different subjects and so on and so on... As a result we have been able to correct some important flaws and on some occasions to prevent actuations involving unnecessary high risk to the personnel.
We consider that our position and actions have been constructive, indicating aspects that require corrections, proposing particular solutions and using technical arguments to back up our proposals. Prevention Delegates from CGT-CELLS have increased their qualification by taking courses in occupational health and safety organized by Generalitat de Cataluña, acquiring more than 100h of technical training.
Despite the efforts made, CELLS is still far from meeting legal minimums in occupational health and safety, since the structural aspects hindering appropriate management of prevention in our laboratory have not been properly addressed.
We will keep pointing out from within CGT-CELLS that an installation such as ours can not function with subcontracted occupational health and safety service. Two technicians are in charge of an excessive amount of workers and have neither time nor means to carry out their job. On several occasions we have requested for establishing of an internal occupational health and safety service with personnel trained and prepared for handling a workplace as complex and specialized as ours. We will keep working in the same direction.
3.6.- Working for transparency
Transparency in business management is one of the most important objectives of CGT-CELLS, given that it is an indispensable prerequisite for achieving other goals.
Just to mention some examples, transparency is a key factor in avoiding salarial discrimination, arbitrary assignment of professional promotions and allocation of available places for training etc. Transparency is also important in order to avoid stressing factors due to incorrect organization of work, prevention of violence at workplace, and to dispel suspicions of arbitrariness or bad management practices.
For instance, the current collective agreement describes exactly 100 different base-salaries possibilities for the about 150 employees on CELLS payroll. It means that there is a different salarial position for almost each worker. Furthermore, the definition of professional categories is very abstract and lacks of objective references. Therefore, the classification of staff is rather arbitrary. There is no indication in the present Collective Agreement regarding one’s position/classification within a particular group, while this classification to a great extent determines worker’s salary level.
Another historical point of conflict with the Consortium due to the lack of transparency, is the issue of staff's evaluations and the allocation of productivity bonus. Criteria used for conversion between the worker’s performance assessment and final punctuation leading to salary bonuses is completely opaque. Although the management of CELLS has promised on many occasions to reveal and explain the principles behind the bonus calculation, this has never been done, thus augmenting suspicions on arbitrariness of the process.
It is true that the new Management has initiated significant changes in the right direction by making public information that has traditionally been hidden, enabling access to directories that have always been restricted and keeping staff informed through presentations at the auditorium. All these are positive signs, but there is still much work to do and effort to invest in order to resolve the key issues in this area.
3.7.- Preparing negotiations and follow-up on implementation of agreements and regulations
We pay a lot of attention to preparation for negotiations and analysis of proposals as well as definitive texts, including the assistance of our legal assessors. It is our goal to defend in the best possible way the interests of the concerned workers, knowing the implications, consequences and legal framework of the object of regulation. It is our experience that we have to pay close attention to the implementation of the agreements signed with the Management of CELLS. On more than one occasion we have had to reopen debates held during negotiation process due to the different interpretations of the final texts by both parties.
We observed that a direct participation of the affected workers in the negotiation process is decisive in order to reach the best possible agreements. Given that those affected usually are the most knowledgeable persons on the specifics of subject under negotiation, their involvement increases working capacity and efficiency of negotiations.
We will continue to work on fostering direct participation of workers and to strengthen their position in collective negotiations processes, using the most appropriate tools for each particular situation.
3.8.- Defense of workers in case of a conflict
CGT-CELLS has always provided support and guidance to those colleagues whose rights have been infringed. We have made appropriate consultations with legal services and, when required, have accompanied workers to external agencies to present claims.
Regrettably, on some occasions we have found ourselves in situations where the use of collective conflict methods was required and justified due to grave infringement of worker’s rights. Our actuation has been firm and purposeful on these occasions, aiming to set limits to those situations deemed unacceptable by the majority of staff.
We firmly believe that those actions were necessary and that it would have been very irresponsible for the worker’s representatives not having the courage to act. Furthermore, we are convinced that those actions have already produced positive results, reducing the probability of similar episodes occurring again and gradually strengthening positions of staff.
As a union section and as representatives at the Works Council, we have a very clear vision of our role - defend interests of workers and act as counterweight so that management has to take us into consideration. It is true that in general terms we all want the same - success of synchrotron project and acceptable working conditions. However, it is also true that when looking into the details, management and worker see issues from differing, and very often completely opposite, standpoints.
3.9.- Prevention of violence at work: CELS isn’t an exception, it is present here too…
Unfortunately, the cases that involve violence towards the workers are more common than we think. These situations manifest as a long term continuous hostile treatment towards the worker. It is quite common that a receiver of such maltreatment is someone in a weak situation (normally, the victim is in a lower position in the hierarchy).
All available recommendations, aiming to prevent these situations, emphasize the necessity to recognize that situations of violent conduct may take place in any institution, company or organization. The open recognition of this possibility is the first step to properly address the problem of violence at a working place.
For the last 4 years we have been asking CELLS to make a formal declaration that explicitly states a no-tolerance policy towards mobbing. At the same time we have been asking for an official procedure to be implemented, defining steps and actuations that potential victims need to follow in case they consider they are in such a situation.
During our service period in the Works Council, on several occasions Prevention Delegates have assisted colleagues within CELLS in situations where work-related violence was manifested. We have always offered support and counselling in order to overcome this difficult situation in the best possible way. As a result of these situations, at least 3 of our colleagues have been in need of immediate medical attendance; 2 of them were prescribed with a work-related medical leave due to the severe impact this type of situations have on the health of the people who suffer violence at workplace.
We have given high importance to technical preparation/training of the Prevention Delegates on this particular subject and we have put this subject on the agenda of the Health and Safety council of CELLS. Some of these episodes have been duly registered, reiterating the need for appropriate measures to prevent these situations from happening in the future.
Our new Director has already expressed her intention to tackle this issue, but any concrete decisions are yet to be seen. Hence, a lot of effort is still needed in order to implement means allowing the prevention of situations of harassment and violence in the future.
We, as an Union Section, have a project that is both consolidated and clear. Now, more than ever, we have the knowledge, the experience, the infrastructure and a renewed team to move on towards the future. The work that we have done for the past 4 years has endorsed us with experience and gave us the potential and the will to adapt to the present circumstances.
We have aimed to elaborate in this programme who we are, what do we do, how we do it and which are our priorities. Of course, there are a lot more questions to consider, but we only wanted to comment on the most important ones and to present a small sample of our project.
Now, the decision is yours….
For a committed, collective, unionized, responsible and solidary ACTION, trust us…
VOTE FOR CGT-CELLS