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UN's Congo Staff Strike Moves Into Second Day, UN Union Busting in Liberia Surfaces, High Officials Away

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 --  As the UN's national staff members in Congo have gone on a multi-day work stoppage to protest what they call disparate treatment, the UN Mission in Liberia's crackdown on its union is also being raised in New York.

   According to Staff Council sources, however, the inattention that led to these problems has continued: the Number One, Jean-Marie Guehenno, is away and has not briefed, they say. And Number Two Jane Holl Lute met with the Staff Council on Wednesday and made certain commitments, she then "went on leave for Thursday and Friday," while the national staff in the Congo remain with less e-mail access than similar international staff.

            At Thursday UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: On the MONUC strike... can you confirm that a work stoppage occurred, and if so, how many of the national staff actually did not work, and if it impinged on MONUCís work at all?  And also, I am told that there was a meeting by DFS and ASG, no the USG, Jane Hall Lute, on these issues yesterday.  And I am wondering if there is a readout... if it is true that MONUC's and UNMIL's national staff leaders are going to come to New York and are going to try to thrash out these issues.

 Spokesperson:  I have to find out for you.  What I gave you I found out from MONUC this morning, about what the discussions between the Special Representative and the staff of MONUC led to.  What I gave you is what I have.  I donít know how many people were actually in work stoppage; this I can find out for you.  And how it affected the work of MONUC, this I can also find out for you.  But what I gave you I got this morning from them. [Video here, from Minute 10:27.]

            In the ten hours following that statement, no update was given. But from Kinshasa comes word that the "Suspension of Service enters its second day."

UN (Ogi) talks, national staff not shown

Meanwhile, the Staff Council's report on UNMIL in Liberia posits a mystery: "It is not clear when exactly the National Staff Association office was broken into and documents and records confiscated by UNMIL... Concerns were raised regarding the integrity of the financial documents that shall be subject to an audit."  Sounds like UNDP -- click here for today's story, and watch this site for DPKO / DFS coverage.

* * *

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

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540