Recently UNDP has published a site made-by David Morrison entitled FOR-THE-RECORD, where Mr. Morrison publishes the latest bla-bla-bla-lies about: "How Great our Leaders are and how UNDP staff members have recently expressed their support for current management in the annual Global Staff Survey 2007"
While UNDP Watch doesn't comment anylonger on Morrison's infinite lies, it does wish to highlight herein the Staff Council address (Nov 2007) to the UNFPA Global meeting in Princeton.
The speech was delivered by the Chairperson of UNDP/UNFPA Staff Council and speaks for itself. We are publishing it as is (No censorship):
Staff Council's Address to the Global Staff meeting
I would like to thank the Executive Director and the Director of DHR for giving the UNDP/UNFPA Staff Council the opportunity to address the UNFPA staff.
This morning's topic was accountability, a topic of great concern to all staff. Unfortunately, it has become a standard staple in virtually all speeches outlining strategies, responses and new approaches. There is an abundance of accompanying strategies such as fraud prevention, internal control framework, results based budgeting, etc. However, the implementation of accountability and transparency remains selective at best. We urge the Senior Management to implement these important goals. For us, there is a simple way to implement accountability, i.e., compliance with the code of conduct and the staff rules.
Concerning the regionalization, I would like to reiterate our appreciation for the HR procedures implementing the move of the geographical divisions to the regions. The Executive Director and the Director of DHR were very receptive to our suggestions and in our discussions with UNDP and UNOPS we refer to the UNFPA procedures and the open and constructive discussions with DHR as a model to be adopted. We look forward to a transparent implementation of these well designed procedures.
As previously said, our discussions with DHR are very positive and productive and we very much appreciate the DHR Director's constructive approach to staff management relations. However, according to the latest staff survey, few staff consider the reassignment and promotion process as fair and equitable. Job satisfaction decreases significantly with length of service and long serving staff, in particular permanent contract holders, often feel marginalized with no career options left. Thus, a stronger focus should be put on career development. Recruitment and reassignment policies should be implemented consistently under the institutional accountability of DHR as the guardian of staff rules and regulations. Therefore, we believe the DHR role and mandate should be institutionally strengthened. Similarly, the Ombudsperson recommended this too in his latest report, "All organizations should ensure that the role played by human resources offices in appointments and reassignments strikes an appropriate balance between the offices and substantive units in decisions concerning human resources". While our criticism may seem harsh, I would like to point out that UNDP and UNOPS face similar problems but the extent of those problems are much smaller in UNFPA than in the other organizations and we would like to commend UNFPA for its leadership and for keeping a human face of DHR's policies.
UNFPA has been generally generous in allowing staff to take advantage of work life options. Nevertheless, I would like to take some time to reflect on working conditions. We seem to subject ourselves to the pressure of e-mail and cell phones. In the same time zone, supervisors give assignments, comments and reactions well after working hours sometimes after midnight or at 5 a.m. Such a practice exercises pressure on staff to continuously check their e-mails because an immediate reply could mean a critical incident or a lack thereof. I would like to urge supervisors, while in the same time zone, to restrict e-mails after office hours to truly urgent issues. After leaving the office staff should normally not be expected to keep in touch with office matters. It is important that staff have some uninterrupted time for their families and loved ones. At the same time we should discontinue the practice to expect staff to travel through time zones and to start working without sufficient rest. There is enough medical evidence that working without appropriate recuperation is unproductive. The general service Staff is the backbone of the organization and they are often not appreciated accordingly.
It has come to our attentions that in a significant number of cases, General Service Staff are not compensated for working after office hours. I would like to urge concerned managers to discontinue such practices. Overtime for General Service Staff is not an option; it is mandated by staff Rule 103.12 , which states that staff who are required to work in excess of the working week shall be given compensatory time off or may receive additional payment.
The most recent report of the Ombudsperson notes:
All organizations of the United Nations system need good managers, who are able simultaneously to provide leadership, manage people, oversee excellent programmatic performance and outcomes, and help their organizations to compete in a fast-changing environment. The four organizations served by the Office of the Joint Ombudsperson need to ensure that this is a minimum acceptable standard for managers of the future since the image of all organizations is reflected in the managers who represent them. Too often these minimum acceptable standards for manager are not met and we call on the managers to abide by the code of conduct.
On abuse of authority the report notes:
Abuse of authority is found in many country offices as well as in headquarters units. It consists of bullying; shouting and screaming; humiliating staff in front of others; arbitrary decision-making concerning tasks, contracts, performance reviews, recommendations for promotion and posts.
The Staff Council has received numerous complaints from staff concerning inappropriate and sometimes abusive management style of senior mangers. This is not acceptable, we are civil servants at all levels. We gratefully acknowledge that DHR has made great improvements in dealing with formal request on abuse of authority. However, the situation is still far from perfect. As the Ombudsperson notes too, few staff feel confident/fearless to submit a formal complaint. We encourage DHR to continue its efforts to further improve this very difficult process.
Often the members of the United Nations system rightfully look at the private sector for solutions to operational problems. The private sector indeed provides solution and best practices for IT and logistics. However, while looking at the private sector managers often forget that as international civil servants we are bound by the UN Charter, GA resolutions, staff regulations governing our conduct and the use of public funds. In this context I would like to quote from a famous speech of a former SG.
"The international civil servant must keep himself under the strictest observation. He is not requested to be a neuter in the sense that he has no sympathies or antipathies, that there are to be no interests which are close to him in his personal capacity or that he is to have no ideas or ideals that matter for him. However, he is requested to be fully aware of these human reactions and meticulously check himself so that they are not permitted to influence his actions. This is nothing unique. Is not every judge professionally under the same obligation?
If the international civil servant knows himself to be free from such personal influences in his actions and guided solely by the common aims laid down for, and by the organization he serves and by recognized legal principles, then he has done his duty and the he can face the criticism which, even so, will be unavoidable. As I said as the final last, this is a question of integrity, and if integrity in the sense of respect for law and respect for truth would drive him into positions of conflict with this or that interest, then that conflict is a sign of his neutrality and not of his failure to observe neutrality - then it is in line, not in conflict, with his duties as an international civil servant."
That speech, of course, was delivered by Dag Hammarskjöld in Oxford in 1961. Too often, we tend to forget that we operate under principles and ideals set out for the system and as a whole and not under objectives of a particular division or agency. We see the concepts of 'delivering as one' as an attempt to reaffirm the principles so eloquently expressed by the former SG.
Before closing, I would like to reiterate our sincere appreciation for the Executive Director and her team including DHR Director Sean Hand, for the openness and the constructive approach to address any issue we raise.