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Good news as General Assembly puts stop to removal of pension fund from UN

We are pleased to inform you that the General Assembly has listened to your concerns and is taking formal action to address the problems at the UN pension fund.

In its draft resolution, to be formally adopted this week, the General Assembly:

  • Rejects new financial rules proposed by the fund’s board. We had argued that the rules would pave the way for the removal of the fund from the UN, allow the fund to choose an alternative auditor to OIOS, and circumvent UN rules on procurement.
  • Rejects the CEO’s proposals for two P-5 posts, one for communications and one for office administration. We had argued they were a waste of your money.
  • Heavily criticizes the late payment of newly retiring staff. We had pointed to the extreme hardship of those forced to wait six to eight months to receive their first payment.
  • Dismisses the board’s positive evaluation of the CEO. We had argued that to accept the evaluation at a time when retirees weren’t being paid would be absurd.
  • Expresses concern at the financial underperformance of the fund and criticizes the number of vacant posts in the investment management division. We had argued that keeping key posts vacant would no doubt contribute to financial underperformance.
  • Requests a performance evaluation of the head of investments (known as the Representative of the Secretary-General). We had argued that this was timely.
  • Requests a full audit of the fund’s internal policies and processes. We had argued that there was much to be clarified in the fund’s operations.
  • Endorses further study of our proposal to pay an advance to new retirees who don’t receive a pension in time.
  • Calls time on the fund’s excessive use of expensive consultancy firms, such as PWC. We argued the fees came at the cost of your pension.

The General Assembly’s actions are good for staff but a setback for the fund’s board and its CEO, Sergio Arvizu. They follow a staff union campaign, extensive meetings with member states and a petition signed by 14,000 of you.

In reaching its conclusions, the General Assembly also took into account a leaked OIOS draft report alleging the pension fund did not treat the issue of late payments to retirees with sufficient urgency and posted fake news on the UN intranet about the size of the late payment backlog.

Our campaign to protect our pension fund received press coverage in:

It also involved a formal intervention by staff unions at the General Assembly in late October.

The campaign was conducted by the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), of which your union is a member, and its sister federation, the Federation of International Civil Servants Associations (FICSA) and the UNISERV federation. The Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS), representing retirees, did not support the campaign.

While we are very pleased with the General Assembly resolution, we will continue to focus our efforts on:

  • improving the timeliness of payments to new retirees, which while down to 8 weeks thanks to the pressure we have exerted, is still 6 weeks over target;
  • instituting a system of payment advances;
  • addressing underperformance of investments;
  • reviewing unnecessary and potentially damaging human resources practices at the fund; and
  • refreshing the fund’s leadership team, for which we look to the next Secretary-General for his support.

We thank you for your support throughout this campaign, a campaign that has been the target of threats, personal attacks and the harassment of journalists by the fund’s leadership.

We also take this opportunity to thank the staff of the fund for their seriously hard work despite the challenges they have faced from their management.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments.