Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Staff Union condemn the Retention of imminent retirees and use of consultants and retirees at the United Nations

in a report presented today to the General Assembly the UN Staff Union strongly condemned the mismanagement and illegal modalities used by UN manager in retention of retirees and consultants.

Click here to see the Staff Union Report

39. The poor rating of a staff member’s performance can be used to justify the hiring of consultants. To some extent too, the use of consultants appears to be in lieu of providing staff training. Rather than train their staff within existing resources, supervisors tend to engage the same consultants either frequently or for extended periods. There is no procedure for vetting consultants. The process of engaging consultants is at the discretion of programme managers. Sometimes, political considerations appear to be embedded in the process of engaging consultants. Yet there have even been instances where consultants have been allowed to supervise regular staff members.

40. Programme managers routinely rehire retirees and or retain imminent retirees as a stopgap measure in lieu of succession planning. Indeed, this concern has informed the sentiment against re-hiring retirees or extending the contracts of imminent retirees beyond the retirement age. However, not every staff member retires at the mandatory ages. Staff representatives find the discretionary practice to retain some staff members in active service to be selectively discriminatory. Programme managers may not comply with the requirement to initiate the prescribed recruitment process, that is, at least six months before the anticipated vacancies occur (ST/AI/2006/3), to favour certain imminent retirees. Programme managers then request for the retention, sometimes beyond the prescribed six months, and the Superannuation Committee obliges.

41. Even when it does not oblige, the Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Human Resources Management (ASG/OHRM) can ignore its recommendations and there is no feedback to indicate the actioned recommendations. In some instances, the request for retention is not in the interest of the Organization as required by ST/AI/2003/8. It is in the interest of the staff member to accumulate more months of contributory service with the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF); an enduring legacy of General Assembly resolution 35/210 which exempted General Service staff with less than 20 years’ contributory service from mandatory retirement at the age of 60. In other instances, programme managers retain imminent retirees to enable them reach the 10-year requirement for after-service health insurance or the 15-year residency requirement to gain permanent residency in the host country. With regard to retirees, programme managers routinely rehire them as consultants or on regular contracts soon after the expiration of the required three-month separation.

42. These selective and unfair practices point to a need to have a fair policy that is applicable to all imminent retirees. It is the considered opinion of staff representatives that the current retention procedures should be replaced with a non-discriminatory policy that allows staff members to retire at a later age, subject to satisfactory performance.

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