(Version française en bas de page)
On 13 April 2017, the results of the UN Pension Fund elections for participant representatives were announced (1). Eighteen thousand staff voted, choosing four members and two alternates to represent them for a term of 4 years to the UN Staff Pension Committee and to the governing Board of the Pension Fund.
Yet despite these undisputed results, the CEO of the Pension Fund, Sergio Arvizu (pictured), has refused to accept the elected members neither to the Committee nor to the Board, despite four written requests (2). This puts the Fund in violation of Articles 5 and 6 of its own Regulations and Rules (3). It contrasts with the Fund’s immediate recognition of the representatives elected by the General Assembly.
This creates a precedent whereby the CEO can decide who sits on the board that administers the Fund.
It further disenfranchises 85,000 staff at a time when the Board is due to meet this July in Vienna to consider three key issues that may affect your retirement income:
- the Fund’s failure to meet its performance targets;
- the Fund’s inability to pay retirees on time;
- the Fund’s weakening relationship with the UN; and
- a proposal to renew the CEO’s contract for a further five years.
The CEO’s refusal may in part be because three of those elected earlier claimed serious flaws in:
- how the Fund has been managed;
- its handling of the recent payments crisis; and
- the truthfulness of data published by the Fund on the UN intranet.
These claims were recently confirmed by an audit of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (4).
The UN has been unable to persuade the Fund to admit its elected participant representatives to the Board. The staff unions of the UN therefore need your voice to be heard.
Whether you are a staff member or retiree, please sign this petition and tell Secretary-General Guterres and CEO Sergio Arvizu to:
- provide access by your duly elected representatives to the Pension Fund Board and UN Staff Pension Committee; and
- fully abide by the Regulations and Rules of the Pension Fund;
Thank you for signing this petition. Please share it with your current and former colleagues. At the end of the day, this concerns your own retirement income.
(2)19 April, 24 April and 4 May: http://www.staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/241/Requests%20for%20access%20for%20Participant%20Representatives.pdf. 15 May: http://www.staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/241/Letter%20from%20Staff%20representatives%20to%20UNSPC.pdf
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE PENSION FUND PETITION: “RECOGNIZE THE VOTES OF STAFF IN APRIL’S PENSION FUND ELECTIONS”
–What is this about?
On 13 April 2017, the results of the UN Pension Fund elections for participant representatives were announced. Eighteen thousand staff voted, choosing four members and two alternates to represent them for a term of 4 years to the UN Staff Pension Committee and to the governing Board of the Pension Fund. Yet despite these undisputed results, the CEO of the Pension Fund, Sergio Arvizu, has refused to accept the elected members neither to the Committee nor to the Board, despite four written requests. This puts the Fund in violation of Articles 5 and 6 of its own Regulations and Rules. It contrasts with the Fund’s immediate recognition of the representatives elected by the General Assembly.
This creates a precedent whereby the CEO can decide who sits on the board that administers the Fund. It also reduces staff representation in a pension fund that staff ultimately own.
–The elections for the UN participant representatives to the Pension Board took place. Can’t the elected participant representatives just turn up at the Board?
In theory, yes, but in practice, no. According the Pension Fund’s rules of procedure, the Secretary of the Board (CEO Sergio Arvizu) has to be notified by the secretary of that organization’s staff pension committee. For most organizations, the secretary of an SPC is usually a human resources official. The UN, however, has subcontracted that role back to the Fund. The UN’s SPC secretary is therefore Sergio Arvizu. He must therefore notify himself of the election results, which he is refusing to do. We believe this constitutes a conflict of interest.
–Have the elections been disputed?
–The Pension Fund CEO says he has concerns with two of the elected representatives. Why?
The CEO has actually blocked all six representatives, not only two. The CEO has raised particular objections with two of the representatives, who are also staff of the Fund. He refers to a legal opinion from 1992 that says that they cannot be on the Board. He also says he brought this to the attention of the polling officers at the time of the elections and asked that the two staff be removed from the candidates’ list.
However, being an employee-owned fund it is quite normal that staff working at the fund may end up being on the Board. The fact that they worked at the Fund was made clear during the elections and will likely have contributed to their polling success. There was a feeling among UN staff that the Board needed members with an insight into the activities of the Fund, in particular given the problems of recent times, such as late payments, when an OIOS report discovered that the Fund’s reporting to the Board and other stakeholders was at odds with its internal reality.
The Ethics Office has clarified that there is no conflict of interest for the two representatives as long as appropriate mitigating measures are put in place, such as not voting on issues that affect them, for example on the evaluation of the CEO, or not being on the audit or search committees. However, there would be no conflict of interest on issues such as granting equal rights to same sex couples or on granting advances to retiring staff are who are not paid on time. Further, it has been clarified that the 1992 legal opinion to which the CEO refers, was overturned at the time by the Joint Appeals Board. We are happy to work with the CEO and Ethics Office on developing appropriate guidelines to avoid any conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise.
At the time of the elections, the CEO’s legal adviser contacted the polling officers and asked that they be removed from the candidates’ list. When the polling officers asked the legal adviser to refer them to the rule that would exclude them from being eligible, there was no reply. This is because there is actually no rule barring them, which is natural as this is an employee-owned fund.
–Any reason why the CEO would be so adamant on this issue if it isn’t about conflict of interest?
His contract expires at the end of 2017 and is therefore up for renewal. The elected participant representatives made a number of claims last year against the CEO, which were substantiated by OIOS, including the posting of false data on the size of the payments backlog (http://www.staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/241/1489700907_1_2017_002_pd.pdf).
Further, those representatives, along with staff unions, convinced the General Assembly to reverse a number of proposals by the Board last year that would have weakened the links between the Fund and the UN, and increased the Fund’s overhead costs.
Those participants also thwarted prior plans by the CEO that would have weakened the rights of staff working at the Fund.
–Has the Secretary-General been asked to intervene?
Yes, but according to our sources his office has hit a dead end and the CEO is unwilling to compromise.
–I have heard the CEO has asked the Board’s Standing Committee to rule on this matter? Is this an acceptable solution?
No. The Standing Committee is required to include two UN participant representatives. As none have been recognized, any meeting it undertakes without UN participant representatives is invalid. Further, it is not for the Board, nor a subsidiary committee, to decide which UN participant representatives access the Board. Only UN staff can decide that.
–Why a petition?
Ultimately the decision on admitting the participant representatives to the Board is political and needs a political solution. Unless staff make there voice heard on this and show they care about being represented, the Fund won’t act. We know that since the petition was launched the CEO has suspended this July’s meeting of the Board, but that doesn’t in itself achieve what is being asked for, which is recognition of the election results in which 18,000 staff voted (three times more than the previous election of 2012).
–Where do I sign the petition?
Un appel à l’Administrateur de la Caisse des Pensions et au Secrétaire général pour reconnaitre le vote du personnel lors des élections à la Caisse des Pensions
Le 13 avril 2017 les résultats des élections des représentants des participants à la Caisse Commune des pensions du personnel des Nations Unies (1) ont été annoncés. 18000 fonctionnaires ont voté pour élire 4 représentants et deux suppléants pour un mandat de 4 ans au sein du Comité mixte et du Conseil d’administration de la Caisse.
Malgré les résultats incontestables, l’Administrateur de la Caisse, M. Sergio Arzivu a refusé d’admettre ces représentants au sein du Comité et du Conseil d’Administration bien que quatre demandes écrites ont été envoyées à ce sujet (2). Il s’agit d’une violation des articles 5 et 6 du Règlement de la Caisse (3) et d’une situation qui contraste avec la reconnaissance immédiate des représentants élus par l’Assemblée générale.
Tout cela crée un précèdent où l’Administrateur de la Caisse peut décider qui siègera au sein du Conseil qui gère la Caisse.
Par ailleurs, cela prive les 85000 fonctionnaires du droit d’être représentés à la veille de la tenue de la session du Conseil en juillet à Vienne. Cette session devra discuter de questions importantes pour votre indemnité de pension à savoir :
- l’incapacité de la Caisse à atteindre ses objectifs en matière de performance;
- l’incapacité de la Caisse à payer à temps les retraités;
- les liens diminuantes entre la Casse et l’ONU;
- et une proposition de renouveler le contrat de l’Administrateur pour 5 années supplémentaires.
Ce manque de reconnaissance des représentants découle en partie du fait que trois d’entre eux ont déjà signalé des manquements graves pour ce qui est :
- de la gestion de la Caisse;
- de la gestion de la crise de versement des indemnités;
- et de la crédibilité des données publiées sur l’intranet de la Caisse.
Ces allégations ont dernièrement été confirmées par l’audit mené par le Bureau des services du contrôle interne (4).
L’ONU n’a pas réussi à convaincre la Caisse d’admettre les représentants élus au sein du Conseil d’administration. C’est pourquoi, les syndicats de l’ONU ont besoin de votre voix pour être écoutés.
Que vous soyez en service ou retraité, vous êtes prié de signer cette pétition qui appelle le Secrétaire général Antonio Guterres et l’Administrateur de la Caisse Sergio Arvizu à ce qui suit :
- assurer l’accès des représentants élus au Conseil d’administration et au Comité de la Caisse des pensions.
- respecter pleinement le Règlement de la Caisse des pensions.
Merci de signer cette pétition et de la partager avec vos collègues actuels ou retraités. Il en va au bout du compte de votre indemnité de pension.
(3) 19 avril, 24 avril et 4 mai: http://www.staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/241/Requests%20for%20access%20for%20Participant%20Representatives.pdf.15 mai http://www.staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/241/Letter%20from%20Staff%20representatives%20to%20UNSPC.pdf