Letter to the Secretary-General: Union rights save UN lives

Published on Friday, 16 August 2013

Unions delivered a letter to the Secretary-General on Monday 19 August 2013, highlighting the risks threatening front line staff as a result of his unilateral  withdrawal from agreed staff-management negotiating forums.

Delivery of the letter, which accuses UN management of putting staff at risk by tearing up  union negotiating rights, coincides with the tenth anniversary of the tragic deaths of 15 UN  personnel following the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. Since Baghdad there have been a further 555 attacks on staff of which over 200 have resulted in deaths. A further 102 staff died in the Haiti earthquake.

The UN staff unions are asking for the urgent reinstatement of established negotiating rights so  that:

UN employees have the right to voice their concerns over being sent to the front line  in remote conflict zones, where they should be protected by professional UN security  officers instead of unscreened private security companies. The unions call for a  reduction in the use of private security contractors such as G4S, Dyncorp International  and Saracen.

  • UN employees have a safety net for themselves and their families whose mental  health has suffered as a result of working on the front line. Families of deceased staff  deserve honest answers and a fair package of care. Children of deceased UN staff.
  • The UN appoints an independent judicial coroner to get a fair and honest answer for  bereaved relatives about why a spouse, parent, son or daughter dies in the field. 
  • The UN sets an internationally-recognized annual Memorial Day for fallen staff. A  permanent memorial should be established and a list kept of all colleagues who have  died or been affected by malicious acts against them whilst working for the United  Nations.

More information can be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/unstaffunions. The Facebook page includes  photos of staff around the world and in hostile locations signing the letter.

2013 08 19 Memorial speech

Brief on staff-management relations

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