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At UN, "Wasteful" SG Guterres Has Staff Coming In To Try To Get Desk Space, Denies Overtime Stolen

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Follow-Up

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 – How wasteful is the UN under Antonio Guterres? How insubstantial are the ostensible reforms? Back on 16 December 2017 Inner City Press exclusively reported on a senseless waste that even diplomats are complaining about. The UN's Protocol office, until now on the UN's second floor across from the Security Council, was movde down to the third sub-basement for at least three months so that its space can be modified for "hot desking" or flex-space, at a cost of $500,000. What a waste, staff told Inner City Press, pointing out this happened just after the UN of Ban Ki-moon spent billions on the UN Capital Master Plan renovation. Why will we have to go into the bowels of the UN, a diplomat asked Inner City Press. Both constituencies negatively reviewed Antonio Guterres, his Deputy and, for some closely in the loop, the head of the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management. And now on March 5 hot desking has hit DGACM on the 30th floor. Senior D2 official Ruth De Miranda was reduced to being a traffic cop, telling people where to sit. Some came in over the weekend -- when Inner City Press no longer can -- in order to stake out a spot. Others came at 8 am. Inner City Press reported on all this while still restricted, after two years, for reporting on UN corruption - required unlike other no-show correspondents to have a minder to cover even Guterres' "Peacebuilding" meeting on March 5. It was pure waste and fiasco, similar to the scam by which DGACM General Service staff are told to book their overtime outside of UMOJA, so as to make it seem that money is being saved. DGACM Executive Officer Miguel Gordo is changing staff members' internal computer profiles to, they say, steal their money. Here is one of his emails: From: Miguel Mourato Gordo  Sent: Monday, 05 March, 2018 2:54 PM Subject: MPD - CTO ageing report as of 28 February 2018 Dear Colleagues, Further to the implementation of DGACM's procedures for Overtime/Compensatory Time-Off (CTO) on 2 August 2017, I am hereby sharing the CTO balances for staff in your Organizational Unit as at 28 February 2018  (Umoja data as of 1 March 2018). The report provides information on the monthly progression of CTO balances since May 2017, which is the date when the EO started compiling this information. Your attention is drawn to the column presenting CTO balances as at 31 July 2017 as these balances have no expiration date. Balances accrued from August 2017 onwards are valid during the four months following the month in which the overtime takes place. This applies to staff in the GS and related categories only, as per provisions of former Appendix B of the staff rules. CTO balances accrued by Professional and above category staff may be taken at any time following the day in which the overtime takes place. Managers, staff and time administrators are asked to monitor progression of CTO balances to ensure they are effectively used by staff. Please note that there may be CTO hours that will be forfeited unless they are used before the end of the month. Lastly, the EO is organizing briefings to staff members, time administrators and HR partners on the implementation of DGACM procedures for Overtime/Compensatory Time-Off (CTO). If you would like to request a briefing for your team please contact Sonia El-Senary in the EO to set up a meeting. With best regards, Miguel." But a fish rots from the head. On March 6, unasked, Guterres' spokesman read out: "just wanted to add, too, I think you had either asked me or written about issues relating to our colleagues in the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management.  And I think the suggestion that you made that the department is changing staff members' internal computer profiles to “steal their money” is baseless.  The processing of overtime and compensatory time-off in the department is consistent with the staff regulations and rules of the Organization, known as the United Nations.  Masood-ji?" After that, Inner City Press asked, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: There's nothing better than getting a question asked that… answered that wasn't asked.  But, I did want to, I mean… the quote about staff is directly from the affected staff members, and what they say…  What I want to ask you is that they were told that, in order to make it appear that they're not being paid overtime, that a side system was set up, which they… not through Umoja, to book their overtime and that then the deal was changed, and what… their understanding of what they were going to be paid has been changed.  So, is that…? Spokesman:  I think what I'm saying to you is that how the Department processes and manages overtime and compensatory time-off is consistent with the staff rules and regulations. Inner City Press: When you mentioned DGACM, I thought you were going to ask about hot-desking.  I had wanted to ask you.  The… it is reported by people that work there that on the 30th Floor of this building, DGACM, that "nobody has a desk" scenario was rolled out, people came in over the weekend to try to stake out desks, try to… I don't want to make fun of it, but it seems like it's caused… many people say it's caused inefficiencies, that people are more concerned with not being… being left with a place to work… Is it an evolution? Spokesman:  Look, I think any change in a working environment is, by nature, disruptive.  We're all creatures of habits, whether we're bureaucrats like me or journalists like you, right?  We all have our habits and our… the way we like to do things, the seats we like to occupy.  The process that we're… that is going on is to save money, is to cut down on the market rate rents that we're paying in different parts of the city.  We're trying to get more people in the building.  We're trying to use the space more efficiently.  As I said, it can be difficult for people, and we very much hope that the process is done in a way that people have time to adapt.  People need to change… time to adapt… and it's going to… I'm sure it's going to be disruptive to any office in the beginning. Inner City Press: But, why isn't it being applied to, for example, the USGs [Under-Secretaries-General] and their own assistants?  What I was told is they still have their… Spokesman:  Some USGs, I know, sit in cubicles.  Others have the right to offices, and I think it's perfectly normal. Antonio Guterres is responsible. He has refused to take questions as his Protocol Office has been moved underground, in UN moving boxes of the kind Inner City Press' files were loaded into and dumped on First Avenue, when the UN evicted Inner City Press for reporting on corruption in the UN Press Briefing Room. Inner City Press remains restricted to minders 22 months later. Guterres and his head of DPI Alison Smale like / engage in censorship. We'll have more on this. Among the parts of the UN facing budget cuts for waste is not only the Department of Public Information, increasingly a propaganda arm which, as if as a sidelight, engages in censorship of the investigative Press, but also the UN's Regional Commissions, Budget Committee officials told Inner City Press on December 13. Inner City Press has previously reported on and asked about the presence of the Latin American Regional Commission (ECLAC) chief Alicia Barcena with Antonio Guterres when he spoke before the Committee. The UN then told Inner City Press Barcena was called on by Guterres for her expertise, but remains head of ECLAC. We'll have more on this. The Budget Committee officials told Inner City Press that if the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions does not finish "five big reports" by the end of this week, concluding the session on December 22 may be unlikely. At the noon briefing on December 14, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly for the status of the ACABQ reports, and about the budget process. The question has been answered in writing: "The President of the General Assembly is aware of and concerned by the late arrival of documents to the Fifth Committee for its consideration. This has been a persistent problem, hampering the work of the Committee. The President has discussed this issue with the Chairs of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Fifth Committee. He has also been kept abreast of the state of play in the Fifth Committee, including through periodic contact with the Fifth Committee’s Chair. ACABQ is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and is represented in the Fifth Committee by its Chair." We'll have more on this. At the noon briefing on December 13, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'm sure you're aware that, in the Budget Committee, proposals have been made for more substantial cuts than… than the Secretary-General has proposed.  He's proposed 200 million.  There's a proposal for 2… an additional $250 million in cuts.  And I wanted to ask you about… part of it, I've heard from a Budget Committee official, is the regional commissions to face… as well as special political commissions, DPI [Department of Public Information].  And I wanted to know, number one, are there contingency plans to implement it?  Do you have any response to this desire for cuts?  And Ms. [Alicia] Bárcena, who I know is the head of a regional commission, is this… I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric], I think, what… she was, you know, sitting behind the Secretary-General in the presentation to the Budget Committee.  Is this her role?  What's the… what is the response to the… the desire to cut these regional commissions?  Can you justify their current budget?Deputy Spokesman:  Regarding this, this is a matter that's up for discussions among the Member States, and we'll let the Member States discuss amongst themselves how to proceed forward with a budget.  And so, the matter is in their hands, and we're not going to comment while they're dealing with it." New DPI chief Alison Smale's swearing in ceremony was closed to the Press; she has still not even responded to Inner City Press' three petitions for review of its eviction and restriction for reporting on corruption at the UN. Meanwhile, the UN Budget Committee head for the year, the Cameroonian Ambassador who joined DPI in its censorship after Inner City Press asked about abuses by his president Paul Biya, told Inner City Press it will all be done by December 22. We'll see. The UN delivered a threat to Inner City Press to “review” it accreditation on October 20 at 5 pm. The UN official who signed the letter, when Inner City Press went to ask about the undefined violation of live-streaming Periscope video at a photo op by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had already left, minutes after sending the threat. This comes two days after Inner City Press asked Guterres about the UN inaction on threatened genocide in Cameroon, and the UN claimed Guterres hadn't heard the 15-second long question.

  It also comes after Alison Smale the head of the Department of Public Information which would “review” Inner City Press' accreditation has ignored three separate petitions from Inner City Press in the six weeks she has been in the job, urging her to remove restrictions on Inner City Press' reporting which hinder its coverage of the UN's performance in such crises as Yemen, Kenya, Myanmar, and the Central African Republic where Guterres travels next week, with Smale's DPI saying its coverage of the trip will be a test of its public relations ability. But the UN official who triggered the complaint is Maher Nasser, who filled in for Smale before she arrived.

UN's Letter Threatening to Review Inner City Press' Accreditation for Audio Report While Staking Out on Cam... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

His complaint is that audio of what he said to Inner City Press as it staked out the elevators in the UN lobby openly recording, as it has for example with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe, here, was similarly published

A UN “Public Information” official is complaining about an article, and abusing his position to threaten to review Inner City Press' accreditation. The UN has previously been called out for targeting Inner City Press, and for having no rules or due process. But the UN is entirely UNaccountable, impunity on censorship as, bigger picture, on the cholera it brought to Haiti. And, it seems, Antonio Guterres has not reformed or reversed anything. This threat is from an official involved in the last round of retaliation who told Inner City Press on Twitter to be less "negative" about the UN - amid inaction on the mass killing in Cameroon - and who allowed pro-UN hecking of Inner City Press' questions about the cholera the UN brought to Haiti and the Ng Lap Seng /John Ashe UN bribery scandal which resulted in six guilty verdicts. We'll have more on this.


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