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LA salary method: A revision is urgently needed



Sunil Kumar, Sumeet Thakkar, Maja Vuckovic-Krcmar, and Ranjan Shrestha


Local Agents – The Backbone of EU Delegation

Getting Poorer and Poorer Every Year

Will local agents’ working conditions ever improve?


USHU has written on this repeatedly but the EEAS is reluctant to recognise the problems and is unwilling to open up a discussion on the Local Agent salary method despite LAs all over the globe suffering from rampant inflation, depreciation and devaluation of their local currencies.


The EU institutions are feeling the bite with budgetary restrictions and passing the burden on to thousands of Local Agents who feel increasingly frustrated as their salaries become less and less competitive over time.


Background

The current Salary Revision Method dates back to 2014 with the main EEAS objective being to align Local Agents Salaries with that of the Markers/comparators. The EU no longer aims to be the best employer but to be an average employer. The result of the application of the 2014 Salary method has been the stagnation of LA salaries in many EU Delegations for the past decade with a regular flow of LAs opting to leave the Commission/EEAS for better-remunerated posts elsewhere. The most recent decision {Admin (2020)21} empowers the EEAS to continue the application of the current method with a view to reviewing it in the ‘near’ future, and not later than 31 May 2021.


Current situation

The EEAS is clearly happy with the current situation, which translated into a zero/minimal increase in LA salaries over a decade.  LAs across the globe have been complaining to USHU and asking for action. It is astonishing to observe situation where in some EU Delegations, salaries have been frozen for more than a decade (Serbia and Israel to name a few)!  Whilst the EU understands and acknowledges the impact of the inflation rate when it comes to the Contractors/landlords, the same understanding is lacking for Local Agents and how salary problems affects their well-being and motivation.


Why has there been no salary increase for years?


  • Wrong job match:  Often a local staff who does the same job in the comparator organisation gets a higher salary than a Local Agent in the EU Delegation – main reason being the LAs in EU are matched to a level lower compared to their counterpart in the comparator organisation.


  • Wrong markers: It is mandatory to take an EU member state embassy or an agency as a marker.  This drives down the average salaries of LAs (for e.g. GIZ where both Gr III and II of EU is matched with Band III of GIZ!).


  • Interdependency of markers: The same markers often use the salary of EU staff for their annual revisions and often refer to older salary scales so salary revisions never respond on time nor reflect reality!


  • Real time inflation is not considered. There is an interdependency of markers and EU DELs on the data, and the system does not take real-time inflation and other elements of cost of living into account, under the assumption that the markers consider it so it is reflected in the salaries the markers pay but there is a substantial time lag. Economic situations can change drastically from one week to the next in many non-EU countries whereas the salary adjustment for LAs is a lengthy and slow process.


  • The EEAS does not want to improve salaries – they do not want to be the best employer.


Real cases of salary decreases!


There is also a specific EU Delegation where staff salaries have not only stagnated for over the past decade but have also experienced a factual decrease of take-home salary due to increased national taxes and other contributions. Local Agents have absorbed a reduction of 3%-10% in salary since 2014. Despite detailed communications from the EU Delegation's management to HQ to address this real problem take-home pay is reduced, NO solution to this problem has been found.


Why should local agents suffer from the budget cuts?


In recent years, there were interim revisions for expatriates to mitigate the inflation, not once but twice! While the institutions justify this using a legal basis, the same institutions try to find legal bases NOT to apply this to Local Agents!

USHU urges the EEAS to immediately review the current salary method and take into account the following feedback from LAs in EU DEL:


  • An ad-hoc salary increase immediately for all LAs due to rampant inflation

  • Update the salary method and take national inflation more into account during the annual revision. The current system of ‘assuming’ the comparators’ foresee and incorporate inflation in their salary grids is unrealistic and unfair.

  • Perform accurate job profiles matches of LAs in EU with those of the markers and reconsider GIZ and how it is matched to two EU LA groups.

  • Add more options of markers for the LA Salary Revision



Join USHU… Fight for your rights! Fight for Equity!



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