UNJSPF-Dec 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Since last year UN staff unions have expressed serious concerns at the direction of our pension fund, including attempts by the fund’s board to pave its exit from the UN through new financial rules, seriously late payments to new retirees and significant under performance in investments.

In July, 14,000 of you backed these concerns in a petition we submitted to the board of the pension fund at its annual meeting.

The board ignored the petition, but following our extensive meetings with member states the General Assembly backed us up.

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

• Rejected new financial rules proposed by the 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.
• Rejected two proposed P-5 posts, one for communications and one for office administration. We had argued they were a waste of your money.
• Heavily criticized the late payment of newly retiring staff. We had pointed to the extreme hardship of those forced to wait six to eight months and in some cases a lot longer to receive their first payment.
• Dismissed 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.
• Expressed concern at the financial underperformance of the fund and criticized 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.
• Requested a performance evaluation of the head of investments (known as the Representative of the Secretary-General). We had argued that this was timely.
• Requested 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.
• Endorsed further study of our proposal to pay an advance to new retirees who don’t receive a pension in time.
• Called 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.

In reaching its conclusions, the General Assembly also took into account a leaked OIOS draft report (https://www.unfsu.org/unjspf-oios-draft-report/) showing the pension fund not to have treated the issue of late payments to retirees with sufficient urgency and to have posted fake news on the UN intranet about the size of the late payment backlog.

The staff union campaign to protect our pension fund received press coverage in:

• Bloomberg: UN’s $54 billion pension fund in power struggle over new rules (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-15/un-s-54-billion-pension-fund-in-power-struggle-over-new-rules);
• Tribune de Genève: Inquiétudes autour du fonds de pension de l’ONU (http://www.tdg.ch/geneve/geneve-internationale/inquietudes-fonds-pension-onu/story/21968101);
• Interpress Service: UN staffers protest plan to privatize $53 billion pension fund (http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/un-staffers-protest-plans-to-privatise-53-billion-pension-fund/); and
• 24 heures: Des retraités de l’ONU se retrouvent sans le sou (http://www.24heures.ch/suisse/suisse-romande/Des-retraites-de-l-ONU-se-retrouvent-sans-le-sou/story/18142027)

It also involved a formal intervention at the General Assembly in late October (http://www.un.org/en/ga/fifth/71/Statements/141.%20Common%20System/C5_71_0m_ST_2016_10_26_Item141_Common%20System_President%20CCISUA.pdf).

The campaign was conducted by the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), its sister federation, the Federation of International Civil Servants Associations (FICSA), and the United Nations International Civil Servants’ Federation (UNISERV) Federation of which your union is a member. 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 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.

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