Doc. 9763

1 April 2003

Unemployment benefit for temporary staff members

Written Question No. 423

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 833rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (26 March 2003)

I. Written Question No. 423 by Mr Jung (Doc. 9698)

Considering that the 520 or so Council of Europe staff members recruited on fixed-term contracts do not at present receive any monthly unemployment benefit at the end of their contract, and thus find themselves without income,

Almost 300 temporary staff members are to be dismissed sooner or later and are placed in an insecure position just like those dismissed in the autumn of 2000, who should come under the same arrangements as their colleagues who are now in the process of being dismissed. These suppressions of posts are part of a sweeping policy to reduce contractual appointments,

To ask the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers,

When does the Council of Europe intend to provide the temporary staff it recruits on fixed-term contracts with insurance covering the risk of unemployment, by setting up its own compensation benefit scheme or by joining an existing scheme such as the ASSEDIC in France?

Why, in its own internal management, does the Council of Europe not apply the texts it calls on its member states to apply in particular, the principles set forth in the European Social Charter, which is a legal instrument initiated by the Council of Europe and for which the Organisation is the custodian? It is the credibility of the Council and of the standards it upholds which is at stake.

Whether he does not feel that by behaving in this way towards its own staff, the Council of Europe violates the principles of European social law.

II. Reply by the Committee of Ministers

1.       Human resources are a major asset of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers is therefore naturally committed to the implementation of a modern staff policy based on best practice and which respects the principles of the revised European Social Charter.

2.       A year and a half ago, the Committee of Ministers mandated the Secretary General to prepare proposals for statutory and regulatory provisions required for the implementation of a new staff policy. The process of reforming the Council of Europe’s staff policy is now underway.

3.       One of the first measures, directly concerning temporary staff members, led to the creation of 213 permanent posts in March 2002 and an exceptional recruitment procedure open to temporary staff members having served the organisation for a minimum of three years. This process is well advanced and the Secretary General has begun awarding contracts to successful candidates and will continue over a period of 36 months. Some 300 candidates were successful. Furthermore, special rules were introduced to ensure employment of staff members over 50.

4.       Another important element of the new staff policy directly concerning temporary staff members will be the implementation of a new contractual policy, which should clearly define the nature and duration of temporary contracts. In this context, the Secretary General will propose means of improving the situation of staff when their contract expires, either by unemployment insurance or a specific indemnity.

5.       The Committee of Ministers is committed to the principles and rights set out in part 1 of the revised European Social Charter.

6.       To comply with the Charter, Article 12 provides that a State must undertake to maintain the social security system at a satisfactory level at least equal to that necessary for the ratification of the European Code of Social Security. The latter requires that six out of the nine elements constituting social security be provided; unemployment benefit is not an obligatory element.

7.       The principles of the revised European Social Charter are respected when any elements of the new staff policy are implemented.