Category Archives: News

UN Staff News

UNSU Meeting with Secretary-General Guterres

The Leadership of the United Nations Staff Union at UNHQ-New York met with Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres on Friday, 14 July 2017.

The Secretary-General briefed UNSU Leadership on UN reform which he described as still in its early stages. He emphasized that reform of the Organization is needed in order to create efficiencies in service delivery, as well as in implementing its mandates and not intended as a cost cutting measure.

Ms. Bibi Khan, President of UNSU, recalled the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and stated that the rights and privileges promulgated were also applicable to staff members of the UN, as they serve the Organization. Ms. Khan was of the opinion that many of the issues that staff members face fall under four broad categories: governance, accountability, justice, and equity, and called upon the Secretary-General to support the UNSU in its commitment to the values and ideals of the UN Charter as well as its Declarations and Covenants.

The UNSU also presented a letter to the SG from representatives of National Staff Associations from 22 field duty stations, and an invitation to the Secretary-General for UN Staff Day 2017 scheduled for 8 September 2017.

Hello from Entebbe

The United Nations Staff Union (UNSU) represents all categories of staff at UNHQ in New York, as well as the national staff at filed duty stations. While the concerns of colleagues at UNHQ are always front and center, many of the problems faced by national staff fall by the wayside because of a combination of distance and lack of communication. From 02-06 July 2017 the UNSU met with Leaders of National Staff Associations (NASA) from 22 field duty stations in Entebbe, Uganda, to discuss and consult on various concerns related to the welfare and conditions of service of the locally-recruited staff in the field.

The event was organized by UNSU with the collaborative engagement and support of Mr. Atul Khare, USG DFS. It focused on cross-cutting issues affecting locally recruited staff in field locations, including: downsizing/ end-of-service package/outsourcing; nationalization of posts; medical insurance plan; status of payment of pension benefits; GSDM; and strengthening of representation via UNSU. The forum provided the opportunity for information sharing and follow-up on the outcomes of a NASA meeting held in 2016.

A parallel conference at the same location from 03-05 July 2017 of DMS/CMS of field duty stations and Mr. Khare facilitated two side meetings: (1) staff representatives with DFS heads of missions and a second meeting with Mr. Khare and Ms. Chhaya Kapilashrami, Director, FPD. The USG described the interaction as historic and reassured national staff representatives that their concerns would be addressed, particularly those related to budget cuts.

The leaders of NASA emphasized the significance of such interactive platforms for confidence building between staff and management and for capacity building of staff representatives. They also highlighted the importance of information sharing and consultations to achieving the goals and objectives of the Organization.

Today: UNSU General Meeting

The 45th Council of the United Nations Staff Union will be hosting their first General Meeting on Wednesday June 28th from 1:15 to 2:30 in Conference Room 4, GA level 1B. The GM is a bi-annual opportunity for all UN Staff to pose questions and comments to the Union Leadership and Council, who will present their Budget and Strategy/Program of Work. Questions can be sent to staffunionu@un.org or through slido, which can also be accessed during the meeting on computers and smart phones using event code #B259. Participation in Staff Union meetings is considered official business under Chapter VIII of the Staff Rules and Regulations, meaning that all are welcome and allowed to attend. French interpretation will be provided by DGACM. Conference room 4 is wheelchair accessible. 

Help build a better policy on whistleblower and victim protection

ATTENTION UN STAFF:

The Staff Union has created a survey for collecting information to better inform policies to protect staff from abuse and protect whistleblowers against retaliation.

Your voice matters! We are seeking your frank and open views on cases of discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment and abuse of authority, and misconduct, that you have been subject to, witnessed, or heard about. This includes questions regarding individuals who have blown the whistle on wrongdoing and if they suffered negative consequences or were retaliated against in any way.

The survey will take about 10 minutes of your time and is completely anonymous. The deadline for completing the survey is Friday June 9, 2017. Please share the survey with your coworkers and speak your mind!

 

 

Geneva EGA on proposed pay cuts

UNOG staff met today at the Palais des Nations for an Extraordinary General Assembly on the topic of the ICSC-proposed 7.5% pay cut to Geneva staff. Such a pay cut could potentially lead to similar cuts at other duty stations if passed. See here for the livestream from today’s EGA, thanks to the ILO Staff Union/Syndicat du Personnel de l’OIT for sharing.

Photo courtesy of Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

UN Pension Fund must recognize its newly elected board members

On 13 April, the election results for the UN Staff Pension Committee were announced. Almost 18 thousand voters took part.

Yet one month later, the Pension Fund still hasn’t recognized the results, despite a commitment to do so at the recent meeting of the Staff-Management Committee.

Why? It is not clear. However, what is clear is that the elected members are due to attend the meeting of the Pension Board in July (UN SPC members are also members of the Board), and on the agenda will be the issue of the extension of the current CEO, Sergio Arvizu. Over the past three years, several of those elected have questioned the actions of the current CEO, especially during the recent payments crisis. A recently published OIOS report sheds further light.

To this end, the newly elected representatives sent this letter to the UN Staff Pension Committee and its Secretary (who just happens to be the fund’s CEO).

Please sign this petition to show that UN staff believe the CEO should not be able to unilaterally decide who sits on the board that administers the Fund.

This content was originally posted on the CCISUA website and is shared here on behalf of the UN Staff Union of New York, part of the CCISUA federation.

Exhibit and Party Raise Awareness for UNHQ New York Security & Safety Service

Friday May 5th marked the opening of the “Journey Through Time” photo exhibition about the history of the UNHQ New York Security & Safety Service (SSS), which also served to kick off the organization’s 70th Anniversary Celebration. On January 31st 1947, the United Nations Security and Safety Service was created to provide a safe and secure environment for UN staff, VIPs, delegates and visitors. The opening in the Secretariat lobby was widely attended, with Deputy Secretary General H.E Amina Mohammed and several esteemed security retirees present. And the following party in the GA visitor’s area was similarly lively, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres attending to give a short speech and present plaques to two new SSS retirees.

The occasion was more than a celebration; it doubled as a chance to raise awareness about staff wellbeing within the SSS. The event is part of ongoing efforts to present the intricacies and the variety of the tasks and specific jobs performed by the Officers. It was organized by the Security Benevolent Association, which was created in the early 1980’s to promote the UN Security Officers and facilitate cooperation with their local law enforcement counterparts, the Police Benevolent Associations.

Valentin Stancu, a Senior Security Officer, Staff Union representative of DSS, and Chairperson of the Staff Council, joined me at the exhibit to explain. He says that when people think of the SSS they tend to think of women and men in blue uniforms doing only visible security work like guarding doors and running security checks. Whereas in reality, there are over 300 SSS employees at UNHQ in New York, and only about half are so highly visible. There are numerous ‘behind the scenes’ units working throughout UNHQ and in various missions. One such unit is Crisis Management, which deals with planning and preparing in case of emergencies. Another is the Threat and Risk Unit, which deals with threat assessments related to buildings or events held in the UN. Two more are Special Services and Executive Protection, which escort and protect external VIPs such as politicians and internal VIPs such as the SG, the DSG, and the PGA, respectively. Altogether there are more than 15 units with specific tasks that require special qualification in various fields, including response team (a SWAT-style unit), canine, investigations, locksmith, training, IT, and supply.

He elaborated that one purpose of the exhibit is to educate people about exactly how unique the SSS is. For example, Officers work 24/7 securing the grounds even when the building is closed for weather reasons and holidays. All Officers must be licensed to carry firearms and must train and requalify every year to keep their permits. Unlike any other UN staff category, they must submit to drug tests and must perform their job standing for long hours outside in inclement weather. To become a Security Officer one must have experience in police or military fields.

The Security Benevolent Association hopes that the exhibit and events gave UNHQ staff an interesting insight into the work of their colleagues in the SSS.

Photos by John Oko Nyaku and Mabel Harriman-Smith

Staff Management Committee (SMC) VI

The 6th annual Staff-Management Committee session took place in New York this past week. Representatives of staff unions from UNHQ, UNOG, ESCWA, ECA, UNON, UNLB, ESCAP, ESLAC, UNOV, UNICEF, ICTY, and UNHCR met with management officials from a variety of departments to discuss many different facets of staff wellbeing.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in attendance for part of the Wednesday afternoon meeting. He addressed the committee and spoke about reaching gender parity, staff safety and security, saving costs within peacekeeping missions, and the staff recruitment process.

Items up for discussion included: pension delays, organizational control of safety and security, the GS/NO/FS to P barrier, internal justice, types of office space, gender equality, Inspira, rest and recuperation, career mobility, classification of family vs non-family duty stations, travel during weekends, equality between English and French, protecting whistleblowers, measures against harassment, medical insurance, and the internship program, among other issues. The full report from the SMC will be made available in the coming months.

Video review of the conference by acting ASG Victor Kisob