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At UN, Food Workers Abruptly Told of Layoffs, Swine Flu and Drugs Gag Order

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- With the diplomacy for which the United Nations is known, its food service workers in New York were abruptly told Monday that layoffs begin on August 2. The UN headquarters is scheduled to be emptied and repaired, by a contractor Skanska being sued for asbestos, and its cafeteria is to be cut in two, consolidated with the more upscale Delegates' Dining Room.

  One worker, staring at the day's offerings of chicken legs and corn, complained to Inner City Press that while "Obama is trying to save jobs, Ban Ki-moon is eliminating them."

   The notice was by the UN's contractor Aramark. Its cleaning contractor has not given similar notices, as there will still be a need to clear the UN's so-called swing spaces on Madison Avenue and 47th Street and Second Avenue and 42nd and 46th Streets.

   As Inner City Press has reported, the move is called into question by the Department of Safety and Security's failure to produce risk assessments for the swing space locations. Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein is now said to be blaming the head of the UN's New York security for not preparing the plans.

UN's Ban and Adlerstein, with Skanska, layoff notices not shown

 Adlerstein will hold a meeting with staff on May 7, but the contractors being unceremoniously told of lay-offs are not expected to be invited.

Footnotes: The UN's pandemic expert David Navarro, in an uncharacteristically testy press conference on Monday, refused to state whether any UN staff have tested positive to swine or H1N1 flu. Inner City Press asked him to comment on irregularities in "pharmaceutical controls," including with regard to Tamiflu as well as Daizepam, in the UN Medical Service, but he declined.

  The stated purpose of his briefing was so Ban Ki-moon won't be answered flu-related questions at his May 5 press conference. But now that seemed inevitable.

  The role of the pork industry in the UN World Health Organization's decision to change the name of Swine Flu is not yet fully known. Apparently poultry groups didn't have as much clout, as it is still called Bird Flu. On a recent WHO press conference call, Inner City Press repeatedly pushed 0-1 to get in line to ask a question, but wasn't called on. Next time, then. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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