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    EU language trainers denounce their precarious status

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Foreign language trainers at EU institutions are preparing to submit a petition with 4,000 signatures denouncing the precariousness of their status, which is a far cry from that of European Union public servants. European institutions claim to work against precarious employment, but “they authorise unacceptable working conditions within their own walls,” the Collective of Independent Foreign Language Trainers (CIFL) said.

    More than 100 of these instructors provide foreign language training to staff of European institutions, but the tender system through which their language institutes are contracted drags their salaries downward. As a result, their net monthly remuneration is not more than 1,151 euros full time, the CIFL said.

    Moreover, full-time employment is out of their reach since their timetables include up to four months of inactivity per year, according to the Collective. They are forced to adopt the Belgian status of independent “contractor”, but without the attendant rights, payment that differs according to the languages taught, etc., said the CIFL, which complained that the Commission had been turning a deaf ear to its repeated demands for many years.

    “We are the agents of multilingualism, a fundamental element of the European Union; we deserve decent working conditions,” the petition’s movers said.

    They are calling for their remuneration to be reassessed in the short term, since the Belgian status of independent contractor comes with a high level of taxation and also entails an increasingly high volume of administrative tasks. They also want the introduction of a benchmark salary clause that the schools involved can use to guide their responses to tenders issued by the EU.

    On the eve of the International Day of the Francophonie, celebrated each year on 20 March, the petition was sent to Commissioners Marianne Thyssen (Labour and Social Affairs), Günther Oettinger (Budget), Tibor Navracsics (Education) and Margrethe Vestager (Competition).

    It received the support of 16 euro-parliamentarians from different political groups, including Belgians Marc Tarabella (Parti socialiste, PS) and Claude Rolin (centre démocrate humaniste, cdH), and the Central Committee of Staff of the European Institutions.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times