CCISUA 34th General Assembly Digest

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The 34th CCISUA General Assembly (GA) took place from 21 through 24 May in Beirut, Lebanon, hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and chaired by its 23rd ESCWA Staff Council President, Ms Mona Fattah. 16 members and three observer members of the Federation participated.

The GA kicked off with opening remarks from ESCWA Executive Secretary, Ms Rola Dashti.

Reforming the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) was a top priority on the GA agenda, which included a session with the new ICSC Chair, Mr Larbi Djacta, the ICSC’s Executive Secretary, Ms Regina Pawlik and the ICSC Statistician, Ms Cleopatra Todis.

Mr Djacta expressed his commitment to ensure that staff’s perspectives and concerns are duly heard and to focus on staff satisfaction and on attaining the best conditions of service.  He also underscored his commitment to ensure that conditions of service are favourable for retaining and attracting more women, stating that there is a “need to create an environment that allows women and men to flourish, to grow and balance their careers”. When asked by the CCISUA members about the consultation process with staff, Mr Djacta informed that one of his priorities is to involve staff representatives in the Commission’s decisions, and that “every single decision will go through consensus, no matter how long it will take to get there”. Mr Djacta further emphasised the independence of the ICSC, which he is personally committed to reinforcing.

Other key discussions included:

Parental leave

CCISUA pushes for the establishment of 24 weeks parental leave for each parent as well as childcare coverage for at least the first 1,000 days. Parental leave matters will be brought forward to the ICSC in their summer session in July 2019.

Locally recruited staff compensation review

CCISUA GA discussed the decisions of the working group set up by the ICSC to review the current compensation methodology for locally recruited staff, where CCISUA is represented. CCISUA members expressed concerns and called for vigilance on several matters, including the risk posed through:  

  • a further increase in the weighting of national civil service as a comparator, since the salaries in this sector are normally lower than in other sectors;
  • the risk of replacing salary data from local comparators collected by Local Salary Survey Committees with data from external sources, raising the issue of potential conflict of interest between key stakeholders and providers of data; and
  • the possibility of abolishment of the Local Salary Survey Committees, which could affect the transparency and staff’s participation in the process.

The next working group meeting will take place in June 2019 and CCISUA will continue to push for improvements in conditions of service, including remuneration, of locally recruited staff.

Post Adjustment review

CCISUA GA discussed the developments of the working group reviewing the operational rules governing the determination of post adjustment multipliers (PAM) and of the task force reviewing the conceptual framework of the post adjustment index (PAI), in which CCISUA is represented.

CCISUA members highlighted the need to continue working with expert statisticians in order to best represent the interest of staff on both strategic and technical fronts. CCISUA believes that  there is a clear need for more clarity and transparency on the post adjustment system and that  staff must be given sufficient information on how their pay is calculated.

CCISUA GA discussed strategies for moving forward on this topic and how to best represent staff in both the working group itself as well as the ICSC spring session next year, when the conclusions of the working group will be presented.

Consultants

CCISUA members expressed their concerns about the growing use of affiliate work force, e.g. consultancies, by UN organizations. Affiliate staff are in a particularly vulnerable position as they do not enjoy benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, pension benefits, parental leave, etc;

Furthermore, the increased use of affiliate staff puts the organisation at a long term risk  as they are not contributing to the After Service Health Insurance (ASHI) and the Joint Staff Pension Fund.

CCISUA GA committed to examining ways, including learning from external experience, on how to reduce the use of precarious contracts for work that should be done by staff members. Members shared their individual experiences and lessons learned in handling this issue locally.

Disability

CCISUA GA agreed on the following actions, moving forward:

  • Intensify discussions within CCISUA on  disability, including how to best support staff with dependents who have special needs;
  • Encourage the establishment of support groups for parents of special needs children at all duty stations; 
  • Pursue system-wide standardization of disability certification processes; 
  • Broaden terms of reference of the relevant working groups to include staff members who have dependents with special needs; 
  • Identify mechanisms to provide greater information and assistance to staff members with dependents with special needs.

Mental health

CCISUA members discussed several issues including the perception of mental health as a second-class health issue; the low coverage or no coverage by insurance policies of psychiatric care as an “outpatient”, compared to coverage for physical care.

CCISUA GA agreed to intensify discussions on mental health needs, including workplace environments, medical insurance and pension fund disability awards.

Offshoring of administrative jobs

CCISUA members discussed the latest developments in the UN Secretariat’s plans to offshore and centralize administrative jobs from current locations to service centres under the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM).

CCISUA GA agreed to remain vigilant on these initiatives and to build on previous communication to the UN General Assembly, as well as to further relay CCISUA’s concerns with regards to the expected negative impact of GSDM on staff, operations and financial health of the UN.

The CCISUA GA was preceded by a training on conflict resolution, and included a town hall meeting with ESCWA staff.