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Discrimination towards people aged 50 or over: what a waste! - 2009, April 24

Discrimination towards people aged 50 or over: what a waste!

Sidelined, demotivated, pushed to one side, a below average CDR … that has become the fate of colleagues aged fifty or over who are not in management positions. This phenomenon was initially debated within DG INFSO, on the initiative of our organisations which arranged a meeting of colleagues to discuss this issue in June 2007, but it is also perceptible in most DGs. What emerges above all from the discussions is the very real suffering of the colleagues concerned, who feel humiliated by being treated as dead weights and feel that their professional dignity has been undermined.

These practices are not only unworthy of our institution, they also represent a waste of human resources: what is the point of raising the flag of rationalisation of these resources if the everyday life of the service shows that the most experienced colleagues are almost “discarded”? The policy of systematic mobility, especially within DGs, deprives them of the role of experts that they could play in their specific area of expertise. On the contrary, the institution should capitalise on their expertise by offering them real career prospects, other than climbing the rungs in the hierarchy, and by uprating the positions that they fill. Working as experts, the coordination of complex projects, participating as members of competition panels in targeted areas, representing the Commission at conferences or as part of missions in third countries, internal training within DGs, training and supervising young civil servants are just some of the tasks which would be useful for the service and the institution and would enable the oldest colleagues to contribute actively to the work of the institution in positions that they would probably fill more effectively than younger colleagues. Prestige enhancing job titles such as "Team Leader", "Official Representative", "Senior Analyst" would recognise their expertise other than via the usual reward in the form of a promotion or a line function.

Moreover, for those who seek management responsibilities, we call for an end to this ageism in favour of young people which leads to age being considered as a factor excluding colleagues from head of unit positions, or even deputy head of unit or head of sector positions, without going any further in assessing the competences of candidates aged over fifty.

At a time when life expectancy is increasing significantly in our countries, when there is a clear political will everywhere to extend the compulsory age of retirement, the Commission is once again going against the general trend by denying the merits and value of its most experienced employees. Why not put in place immediately appropriate mechanisms to remedy this situation, which demonstrates extreme short-sightedness?

Our organisations are endeavouring to support the colleagues concerned and to identify and promote future solutions. ADMIN is launching an inquiry on this subject across the whole of the Commission. We shall not fail to put forward proposals as soon as the results are known.


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