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ICSC approves increased and new allowances

CCISUA represented its member staff unions and associations at the International Civil Service Commission’s (ICSC) summer session, which took place from 9 through 20 July, in Bonn, Germany.

The delegation, which worked with other staff representatives to present the situation and concerns of staff and advocate for staff interests, was composed of Ian Richards (CCISUA president) and Patricia Nemeth (CCISUA Vice-President for Conditions of Service).


The key immediate gains, although subject to approval of the General Assembly, are the significant upward revision in child allowance, the introduction of an end of service grant for fixed term contracts that expire, and payment of an allowance for staff who choose not to bring their families with them to so-called family duty stations in the D and E hardship category. Reviews will also be carried out of the post adjustment system and compensation for locally-recruited staff following serious issues faced by staff around the world with pay cuts for GS and P staff.


These gains stand in contrast to recent negative trends in ICSC decisions. In recent months, and in light of cuts to pay, CCISUA and staff unions have been strongly advocating the need for the ICSC to assume a more technical nature and ensure the proper and equal participation of all stakeholders, including staff. We therefore note the efforts made at the ICSC summer session meeting by the outgoing Commission Chair to find consensus among all parties. The ICSC has also agreed to meet with us further to discuss its working methods in light of our concerns. However, much remains to be done and key reviews of P and GS pay have yet to start. This issue therefore remains a priority.


Extensive follow-up will need to be carried out with members of the General Assembly to confirm these gains.


Key takeaways for staff:


Increase in child allowance


Based on external trends as a number of governments have increased fiscal benefits for children, the Commission agreed an increase from $2,929 to $3,666. This amount had not increased for 8 years. Disabled children’s allowance increases by the same proportion to $7,332 and secondary dependent’s allowance to $1,283. This needs to be approved by the General Assembly.


Increase in pensionable remuneration


Following recommendations of the working group that met in January, and in which CCISUA participated, along with a study by the pension fund, the Commission agreed an increase in pensionable remuneration of 4.4 percent for P staff. This increases pensions for P staff by 4.4 percent and partly closes the gap with GS staff who currently receive a higher pension for the same final salary. Provisions will make sure no-one is negatively affected. This needs to be approved by the General Assembly.


Introduction of an end of service grant


Following extensive discussion, the Commission finally reached consensus, including with staff federations and organizations, to provide an end of service grant to staff on fixed-term contracts whose contracts expire without renewal. This is critical given all the reforms and restructuring exercises currently taking place. This would apply to staff with at least five years of service but would exclude those going immediately into normal retirement; it would be equal to half the termination indemnity for fixed-term contracts. This is a completely new allowance and a good win for staff. This needs to be approved by the General Assembly.


Payment to staff who do not bring their families to D and E family duty stations


The Commission agreed to providing the non-family service allowance (NFSA) to staff in family D and E duty stations who don’t install their families. CCISUA argued that this would recognize the status quo where many staff were choosing not to bring their families to those locations and paying costs out of pocket. However, given the range of views on this matter, the Commission did decide as a compromise that as there was no obligation not to bring family, unlike non-family duty stations, NFSA would only be paid out at 75 percent in this case, reflecting the more “voluntary nature” of the decision. This is nevertheless a big and positive step forward. This needs to be approved by the General Assembly.


Review of the post adjustment system


A review of post adjustment was agreed taking on board all your concerns. Staff representatives pushed to ensure emphasis on key issues such as housing, operational rules such as the gap closure measure, and currency fluctuations. There will be a statistical taskforce (which will include staff expert statisticians) to review the concept and a working group (of staff federation members) to review the operational rules. Both groups would be expected to agree their recommendations.


Review of salaries for locally-recruited staff


The Commission agreed to the review taking into account our many concerns, including on available and willing comparators, weights, currency fluctuations, actual comparability once all factors are taken into account and secondary and tertiary scales. At the request of organizations, it will also examine the feasibility of using external data and we must be vigilant. A survey will shortly be sent by CCISUA to members of local salary survey committees, and the findings used as part of the review process.


Framework on diversity and gender


A framework was agreed that at our urging now also includes the concept of merit of which the original proposal made no mention. This will be included in the final report.