CCISUAs Recent Activities in the
Fifth Committee, CEB and ACABQ
Shuibao LIU, UNOG
This year is often called a personnel year, because issues of vital importance to staff, such as human resources management, staff security, contractual arrangements, staff-management relationship, etc. are discussed and policies thereof are made by the General Assembly through its Fifth Committee.
In order to effectively present staff views on various subjects, CCISUA, apart from actively participating in recent meetings of HLCM and CEB, launched a series of initiatives to better inform members of the Fifth Committee and ACABQ. While the New York Staff Union made its presentation in ACABQ, CCISUA Bureau members traveled to New York to express their views in the Fifth Committee both formally (at its plenary session) and informally (through informal contacts).
The President of CCISUA delivered two statements to the Fifth Committee one on human resources management and one on common system issues, whilst the First Vice- president made a presentation in CEB. For reasons of limited space, views expressed in these committees and during informal contacts by the CCISUA Presidents and bureau members can be summarized as follows: CCISUA has always attached great importance to the issue of staff security.
We are active participants in the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN) and have always felt that our views, even if not always accepted, were respected. We were surprised that the comprehensive review and proposed restructuring of the security management system was undertaken without any consultation with staff representatives. It is inconceivable that there would be no involvement of staff on an issue purported to be the number one priority of this Organization.
CCISUA does not believe that the proliferation of high-level posts in a Directorate of Security will solve the problems that plague our system. Such a structure will only diffuse accountability for decision-making and make it easier to rest responsibility for errors on middle level managers rather than on senior and executive levels. This would lead to the institutionalisation of collective accountability a concept that staff representatives completely reject.
CCISUA believes that the Organization needs to have qualified staff with the requisite technical skills and actual experience in hardship areas tasked with the day-to-day working level operations. And, the collective wisdom of experts from all over the world are needed to give guidance, rather than reliance on a select group of experts from a limited number of Member States.
CCISUA presented a resolution and proposal on Security at the 7th session of the High Level on Management (HLCM) held in London in March of this year. CCISUA had no reaction, questions, or request for clarifications on this proposal. The Federation would like to express its disappointment over an opportunity missed by HLCM to investigate further the well-researched staff proposals.
Aside from the practical and moral aspects of this situation, the management has shown flagrant disregard for the Staff Regulations and Rules by not honouring Chapter VIII which mandates the Secretary-General, under Regulation 8.1 (a), to ensure the effective participation of staff in identifying, examining and resolving issues relating to staff welfare, including conditions of work, general conditions of life and other personnel policies.
CCISUA appeals to the distinguished representatives of the Fifth Committee to ensure that the voice of the staff is heard and that the rules and regulations of the Organization are fully respected by mandating consultation with staff on this issue.
CCISUA reiterated its astonishment that the report of the Panel on the strengthening of the international civil service, originally intended to address only the strengthening of the International Civil Service Commission, finally addressed the international civil service as a whole. CCISUA is further appalled that consideration of the report took place in a closed session of the Commission.
CCISUA fully supports the need for reform in the ICSC, in both the recruitment and working procedures of the Commission. The United Nations Organization cannot be compared to a foreign service and cannot function as such. It should have the best possible staff available. In order to recruit a secretariat composed of the best available human resources, it is of primary importance to offer contracts and indemnities commensurate with those of the private sector. Nobody needs to be convinced by statistics to know that the turn-over of junior professional staff members in the UN is exceptionally high, that the Organization can no longer offer the career development programme that young, dynamic staff members are looking for. CCISUA strongly feels that questions of human resources management and budgetary questions should not be considered solely as cost- containment exercises, as is often the case.
CCISUA was disappointed at the decision of the ICSC to separate the mobility element from the hardship element and to delink both the mobility and hardship allowances from the base/floor salary scale. At a time when the Organization is demanding more of staff and we are responding by travelling, without question, anywhere and at any time to serve the best interests of the Organization and the people of the world, CCISUA feels that this action would send the wrong message to those who are carrying out the mandates around the world. Staff mem bers working in difficult and hazardous condi tions deserve recognition of their loyalty, dedication and long periods of separation from their families. At one of the most dangerous and diffi cult periods of UN history, such reductions should not be made at the expense of the staff. CCISUA believes that on this and many more subjects on the agenda of the ICSC, considera tion should be given to the longer-term implica tions for staff members and the Organization, when decisions are made.
CCISUA expressed its serious concern at recent trends in the ICSC towards the erosion of the conditions of international civil servants and demanded that they be reversed. It fully supported the conclusion of the Members of the Panel on the strengthening of the international civil service in a letter to the Secretary-General on the 6th of July 2004: competitive conditions of employment, together with effective human resources management based on modern management practices, are crucial elements for strengthening the international civil service.
On the issue of human resources management, the CCISUA representatives said that while we have supported the goals of the Secretary-Generals reform programme ... but, cannot support the erosion of staff rights and dissolution of oversight mechanisms as a means to implementation and we cannot continue legitimising actions in which staff, through their elected representatives, have no meaningful role to play.
A recent survey by an independent consultant, commissioned by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on perceptions about integrity, revealed that staff believe not enough action is taken to investigate and address instances of unethical behaviour, they fear reprisals if they expose breaches of ethics, and they perceive that the disciplinary process is applied unevenly. Their view of integrity among senior managers is less than positive. Staff representatives were not consulted on this matter and have not been asked to be involved in extensive follow-up actions established by the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General wishes to ensure that the UN leads by example and meets the Global Compact standards that he advocates for the world. Sadly, the Organization cannot be called a leading example of responsible corporate citizenship, because it fails to adhere to, at least, one of the fundamental principles of the Global Compact: upholding freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. The United Nations should not continue to advocate ideals which it does not practice since this will ultimately cause confusion to staff and embarrassment to the Organization.
The staff-management consultative process, at the highest level, has been suspended since April 2003, when all staff unions and associations of the global Secretariat withdrew participation from the Staff-Management Coordination Committee (SMCC) because agreements reached at the Staff-Management Coordination Committee (SMCC) are too frequently not implemented, partially implemented, or delayed for years. In this connection, CCISUA fully concurs the ACABQs opinion, in paragraph 10 of its report on Human resources management (A/59/446).
The absence of an independent judicial sys- tem places staff in the Organization in a situation where their right to fair and impartial adjudication is comprised.
Staff representatives feel the current selection system lacks transparency, violates the due process rights of staff since there is no appeal process, and lacks the requisite checks and balances to ensure safe- guards and fairness, and respectfully request that the Fifth Committee give consideration to providing a clear interpretation of its resolution on the Central Review Bodies (A/RES/55/528, section VI (a)) and whether a substantive review on the merits of the applicants was anticipated.
The Organization has yet to establish concrete measures for individual accountability, and the staff representatives hope that the Fifth Committee may wish to recommend that concrete individual accountability measures be developed, in consultation with the staff representatives, on a priority basis.
On the issue of contractual arrangements, CCISUA underscored their importance as being vital to the organizations effort to recruit and retain staff. It emphasized job security as the cornerstone on which the independence of the international civil service is built. CCISUA requested the distinguished representatives not to confuse the basis of the international civil service with the failures of management to inspire staff to exercise initiative, to reward personal excellence with appropriate career development, and to avoid taking concrete action in cases of proven and documented under-performance. It contended that management had failed to develop and implement an appropriate personnel management system but those failures should not jeopardize the rights of staff to work in an environment where they feel they can take action in the best interests of the Organization without fear of losing their livelihood.
Staff representatives support the introduction of continuing contracts since they recognize they are an improvement for staff currently on fixed-term appointments. However, they support their addition to the Staff Rules and Regulations, not as a replacement for permanent appointments. They also have concerns that, unless the grounds for termination of continuing contracts are clearly defined, staff will be vulnerable to abuse since their contracts can be terminated at any time in the interests of the Organization. Such wide authority for termination would create an atmosphere where staff are loyal to an individual programme manager rather than the Organization.
Staff representatives emphasized that references in management documents to staff and focus groups do not mean consultation with staff representatives as mandated under Chapter VIII of the Staff Regulations and Rules. They believe that town hall meetings are also a means of circumventing these rules.
Staff representatives have no desire to co- manage the Organization. They are aware of their limitations and fully accept and respect the authority of the Secretary-General. How- ever, in matters that impact on the conditions of service, the staff they represent are major stakeholders. To take into consideration their views based on actual work experience, before taking decisions is not co-management, it is good management.