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In Ban's UN, Cafeteria Workers Face 6 Month Layoff, Catering Only to High Rollers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 15, updated Dec 16 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon parties and takes photos with shadowy businessmen the daily life at what remains of the UN grows more barren, the condition of lower level workers more precarious.

 Elevator operators were fired; audio engineers were fired then re-hired as weekly temporary workers with no benefits.

  Now the staff in the UN cafeteria face a layoff of six months or more, Inner City Press has learned. After hearing from staff that the Capital Master Plan intended to shutter the cafeteria after Christmas, Inner City Press waited to speak to CMP chief Michael Adlerstein.

On December 14 Adlerstein confirmed it to Inner City Press, saying "there will be a six month gap" and that the Staff Cafe and Delegates Dining Room will re-open on the fourth floor of the Secretariat Building in December 2012.

Strangely, while the cafeteria is being closed, Adlerstein told Inner City Press that the temporary Delegates Dining Room in the back of the cafeteria space will remain open intermittently with a reduced kitchen.

(Ironically, Ban appeared Wednesday night in a satire video washing dishes. He at least still has a job, a wag snarked.)

Ban Ki-moon on film, layoffs not shown (c) MRLee

  This seems to mean that the cafeteria space on the first floor is not being fully renovated, since part of it will stay open for events for member states and other high-rollers who rent the space.

  So what is the reason for shutting the cafeteria, used these days by among others the construction workers and those remaining in the UN, and summarily laying off all of the staff? Watch this site.

Update of December 16 - after the story above and Inner City Press asking at the December 15 noon briefing, at 11 am on December 16 the UN issued the statement below. It had been said that when the cafeteria was renovated, service and the workers would move up to 4th floot of Secretariat. Now, that is not happening, and it is not explained in the below. Bad management.

Beginning 26 December 2011, the Secretariat Lobby will undergo renovation as part of the United Nations Secretariat Capital Master Plan. As a result of these renovations, the entrance to the Main Cafeteria will become inaccessible. Consequently, the operations of the Cafeteria will be suspended from 26 December 2011 until 30 June 2012.

During this time, basic and necessary repairs to the Cafeteria, the servery and kitchen will take place. The work carried out during this period will ensure the provision of a full food service to staff members on their return to the Secretariat building starting in July 2012.

Catering services will continue to be provided at 4 other locations: the DC1 and UNICEF cafeterias, the Viennese Café and the Coffee Shop.

The temporary Delegates Dining Room will be closed at least for the first six weeks of this project. It might be made available for events for the Diplomatic Community and other UN-approved entities from March through to the end of June 2012 subject to the status of the construction and renovation progress.

The management of staff resources assigned to the ARAMARK operations at the UN is the responsibility of the contractor. However, the company has indicated that, in line with its arrangements with the union, the employees affected by the closure of the cafeteria will be the first to be re-hired upon the re-opening of the facility scheduled for July 2012. The UN also understands that these employees will be called upon to service any catering events that will occur in the interim.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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