Save Ast !

We must be united: we must not sacrifice our AST staff

The ASTs are not happy with the Commission. Their work has lost some of its meaning and direction.  

Their numbers are down, although they represent 25% of the Commission’s workforce and all of the contract staff. They are just about the only category of officials that has suffered job cutbacks since the 2014 reform. This has resulted in a significant reduction in transfer opportunities. In addition, these cutbacks are seen by AST staff as a sign of the institution’s disinterest, despite the fact that our AST colleagues are better qualified and have acquired substantial professional experience outside of the institution.  

Finally, this group feels “surrounded” by other categories: the AST SC staff, the CAs in function group 3, and often those in function group 2, without mentioning the takeover of some of their duties by the AD staff themselves.  

The number of posts for certification is quite limited and, since 2014, ASTs have seen their career prospects restricted to grade AST 9 (as opposed to AST 11 previously), without the transitional compensation that was provided for AD staff. The progression to "senior assistant" is poorly defined and happens frustratingly slowly. For administrative reasons, the AST grades occupy AST/SC posts, giving them the impression that they are being downgraded.  

In short, the prevailing impression among a growing number of AST colleagues is of being the category held in least regard by the Commission.  

We must not remain inactive or indifferent. We must be united and reject the corporatist paradigm of “every man for himself”. To do this, we have to offer AST staff proposals that improve their situation and discuss these with them.  

That is why we are proposing, as for contract staff, 10 courses of action and consideration, of unchanged status. Most of these measures have already been partially implemented. It is now a matter of systematically developing them as an element of the human resource policy for this category.

1. Setting out clear professional career paths, culminating in an end of career at AD grade, made possible by certification, or at that of "senior assistant".

HR should put 2 milestone guidance interviews with each AST,
a first one when the person reaches AST5 to explain the requirements for bridging towards AD or, if preferred by the person towards AST9. A second one as soon as the person is promoted to AST9 to explain the
requirements for going towards AST10-11. 

2. Increasing the number of "senior assistant” posts up to the 8% limit imposed by the Staff Regulations. 

career progress duration AST9->AST10 should be 5 years (= 20% instead of 8%) 

3. Taking account of experience in AST grade for AD certification, so as not to delay their promotions.

Seniority in the AST grade should be taken into account when bridging towards AD. 

4. Providing training, co-financed by the institution, enabling them to pass their external AD exams. 

5. Improving the replacement or compensation accompanying the grant of part-time status to ASTs (CSC, part-time work, union activities, long-term training, etc.).

6. Introducing internal reclassification competitions helping to speed up careers in the AST grade.

Introduce them on a yearly basis allowing participation e.g. as soon as one has had 2 staff reports "above average" in a grade. 

7. Improving inter-institutional transfers.

Each vacant post should "de facto" immediately be open to interested staff from all institutions. Inter-institutional transfers should always be max 4 or 6 weeks. 

8. Organising an AST "exchange programme" to promote staff transfers. Providing, as in Luxembourg, a stock of vacant AST posts to promote staff transfers. 

And take some measures to make them more attractive for interested staff. 

  9. Encouraging, when possible, detachments to enable AST staff to carry out temporary activities in other units on a more or less part-time basis. This will help to distribute workloads between services and to enhance the professional experience of AST colleagues.