It is with great disappointment that we inform you that the annual negotiations between the UN’s staff unions and global management, held this year in Mexico City, were terminated early by management Friday evening as unions vigorously defended you from attempts to remove negotiating rights.
The abrupt ending of the Staff Management Committee (SMC II) on its third of seven days means that key issues relating to the Secretary-General’s reform agenda are now left unresolved. These include mobility, introducing more transparent guidelines for downsizing, reviewing the situation of field staff, fixing the internal justice system, travel standards and a hiring freeze to protect General Service staff already on board.
We were surprised management should choose to terminate the meeting so early. Management had introduced a proposal after the document submission deadline to remove unions’ right to negotiate; a right unions had won after four years of dedicated campaigning. Staff unions wanted adequate time to get to the bottom of management’s proposal in order to make sure that a proper negotiating framework would continue to be in place. Management wanted to cut short this agenda item and move onto other issues, proposing to come back to it time-permitting. Staff put two options forward to overcome the disagreement including deferring the issue of negotiating rights to the following session. Management rejected them both and then insisted on the early termination of the meeting.
We continue to believe that a constructive dialogue between staff and management, as set out in the current framework (ST/SGB/2011/6), makes the United Nations strong especially when significant reforms are being proposed that impact staff welfare. We therefore urge management to return to the table and call for SMC to be resumed. Until that meeting is concluded, it goes without saying that none of the Secretary-General’s proposals on the agenda should be implemented.
We believe the early walk out by management demonstrates a lack of flexibility required for a negotiation and an irresponsible use of resources, both of the organization and of those unions that paid to send delegates to the meeting.
We are greatly concerned by this extraordinary turn of events and are considering our options for further action on your behalf.
We look forward to informing you further on our return to New York and encourage you to read the attached background note.