The Staff Union works to ensure that staff concerns are taken into consideration in the reform of United Nations human resource policies particularly when these affect the staff welfare and conditions of service.
Transition and change have become regular features of the United Nations. In the last years, staff have seen a number of reform proposals. In 1996, in his acceptance speech, Secretary-General-designate Kofi Annan outlined goals for his term: to make the United Nations leaner, more efficient and more effective, more responsive to the wishes and needs of its Members and more realistic in its goals and commitments. Since then, there have been a number of proposals submitted to the Member States.
For UNOV/UNODC as well the last years have been full of changes with mergers, name changing, realignments, reorganizations, restructurings, etc. All of these changes maybe necessary but to be implemented they need the participation and support of staff. Staff and their representatives need to be involved in the development of the reform proposals if they are to be successful.
The one thing that never changed in all these years is the way staff and management relate to each other. When one looks at the historical development of industrial relations in national public service, there are many parallels with the international civil service. Years ago, in number of countries a balance was struck between the State as employer providing job security (in many cases a "job for life" - or in other words, a career while adopting what could be called a "paternalistic" model of staff-management relations in which the public authorities were responsible for taking final decisions on such matters as wages, working conditions, and the like.
In the same countries, over the years there has been a gradual shift in this situation, where national civil servants may have less security, but civil servants and their unions have seen a subsequent increase in their ability to influence policy-making. While it should be recognized that permanent appointments continue in most national civil services, including the United States (the comparator used by the ICSC to establish the conditions of service for international civil servants) there has been a documented growth in collective bargaining in national public service.
Within the United Nations, while we can clearly see a reduction in job security, the shift from consultation toward negotiation has not taken place. In recent years we have seen changes in HR policies and in conditions of services, some of which have been adopted with private sector models in mind. However, these changes were not matched by the changes in staff-management relations.
Any effort to improve staff management relations should lead to a rationalization of both the structure and functioning of labour relations in the international civil service. It should build a system in which all parties - staff, administrations, and Member States - can have confidence.