In 2019 the Staff Council took the unanimous decision to separate from the WHO and to start to produce its very own magazine- the UN Today.
The aim of this brand-new magazine is to produce articles of direct interest to UN staff, missions, and diplomats on a vast series of subjects including current topics such as living and working with the current COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to use this magazine to reach out to you, to reflect your ideas, your insights, your stories, your life as part of the UN community and to keep you up to date as what we as your Council have been doing for you. We are still under discussion with UNOG Administration on the distribution of magazine within the Palais, as at this point, they wish to charge the SCC for this service. But as this is in contradiction with the ST/AI/293 on one of the facilities to be provided to staff representatives (“distribution of bulletins and other documents”), we are convinced it be resolved shortly.
The UNOG SCC has continued during this period, working to defend your rights in many areas: staff jobs, security, wellbeing to name just a few.
We closely monitored the evolution of the outbreak of the pandemic since the beginning of March. From the beginning we asked UNOG Administration to allow tele-working for all non-essential staff, particularly for those considered at risk or who had family members at risk. As the situation evolved and teleworking was imposed on all non-essential staff, we raised your concerns with the Director-General of the difficulties faced by many of you including balancing work with family duties, including home-schooling – this led to Administration calling for managers to show flexibility and understanding during this exceptional period. Administration clarified that staff would not need to take annual leave even if they could not produce the same quantity of work, normally required of them during the week.
On behalf of those staff on temporary appointments, we requested Administration, to the extent possible, to insist managers announced to concerned staff the non-renewal of appointments as early as possible, that these staff be allowed to retain the UN medical insurance as a stop gap measure and that Administration request the host country to extend the grace period following the expiration of a carte de legitimation.
We also established a Facebook group UN Geneva community as a dedicated forum for helping support UN staff.
The Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP)
At our request, the DG held a Town Hall meeting with staff on 27 February. We raised our serious concerns about the SHP project: hot desking in the H building, the management of the project, its financing, space utilization, we also reiterated our disappointment that Administration had continually failed to consult staff regularly. The DG has now promised regular and constant consultation.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we have raised the additional concerns of the potential health risk of the use of hot-desking.
One of our council members is a member of the pension fund board. Staff representatives on the board raised a while ago concerns about Fund assets being placed in more- risky investments strategy. Those concerns, led to an internal audit of the fund, which in turn led to the resignation of the Representative of Secretary-General to the Pension fund. We are following the situation from within our position on the board and are waiting to see the impact those decisions have had following the recent crisis in the financial markets.
Equal Pay Campaign
We are keeping up the pressure in our fight for equal pay. After learning that the Secretary-General had intervened with the UNAT on the WMO pay cut claim, we sent a letter to the SG expressing our dismay at the attempted influence of the UN administration over the Appeals Tribunal.
A council member attended the CCISUA (the Federation to which our Council belongs) working group on post adjustments in Paris, in February. We also requested the federation to write to the Chairmen of the ICSC to express our regret that there was still no adoption of new post-adjustment methodology, which will likely mean that the intended new cost-of-living survey envisaged before 2021 will be delayed.
Staff-Management Committee (SMC)
The Council intends to submit several papers on behalf of Geneva to the next SMC meeting namely on Geographic diversity, Investigations and the Disciplinary Process and Contract security (to address the concerns of the trend of increasing use of consultancy, temporary and other non-regular contracts). We are also pushing hard to finalize the paper on downsizing, which has become a priority considering the current financial circumstances.