Positive developments for Staff at the General Assembly

Published on Wednesday, 18 January 2017

We would like you to update you on additional developments at the General Assembly. In the lead up to the General Assembly decisions we held extensive meetings with delegates in New York and made formal statements at the assembly itself.

Human resources

The human resources resolution:

  • Rejected the Secretary-General's proposal to raise the earnings limit for retired staff members in receipt of pension benefits from $22,000 to 125 working days of the last salary. We had argued this would undermine good workforce planning and opportunities for current staff.
  • Did not approve the Secretary-General's proposal to eliminate the break in service at the end of a temporary appointment, and instead requests further study. We had argued that this would create a sub-class of fixed-term staff with fewer employment rights and benefits.
  • Did not approve the Secretary-General's proposal to put vacant posts in B to E duty stations into the mobility lateral reassignment track. We had argued that this would prevent opportunities for promotion to the field.
  • Backed our concerns with the use of general cognitive testing and requested further study of the matter.
  • Requested further study of our proposal to allow GS and FS staff to apply directly to P positions. It was of the view that the Secretary-General had not provided sufficient analysis. We plan to make this a priority.
  • Approved the change to staff rule 9.9 that will enable the organization to fine those who commit disciplinary offences by retaining their accumulated leave. We had argued that this breached acquired rights.
  • Reduced the posting period for position-specific vacancies from 60 to 45 days. We had no opinion on this, but it will likely benefit internal candidates versus external ones.

We are pleased to have obtained most of what we had asked for in our formal statement to the General Assembly, also on video at 1:46:30.

Common system

The common system resolution:

  • Reiterated that the International Civil Service Commission may increase post adjustment if the difference beween P staff and US federal civil servants (taking into account cost of living differences) falls below 13 percent. Knowing that the margin would fall below 13 percent in early 2017, the United States moved unsuccessfully to remove the 13 percent trigger. We argued successfully in the other direction. The planned pay rise for US federal civil servants next month will provide additional impetus for a post adjustment increase.
  • Requested the ICSC to consider increasing the weight of national civil service salaries in GS salaries. Mexico had moved to increase the weight. We argued against. The compromise was "consider". We hope the ICSC will indeed consider this and reject it for the right reasons.
  • Asked for further study on the issue of separation payments. We had backed the ICSC proposal that those with ten years of continuous service, whose fixed term appointments weren't renewed, receive between 5 and 6 months of separation payments. Member states hosting downsizing peacekeeping missions had pushed for the threshold to be reduced to five years, triggering concerns about costs. This explains why the proposal was not rejected but delayed for further consideration, likely once certain recent peacekeeping missions have closed.

There is much on which to follow-up with the ICSC itself. Our statement to the General Assembly prior to its decision is here, also on video at 24:30.

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