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Ban's UN Tries to Remove Staff's Negotiated Rights, Ends Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- Labor relations in the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have hit a new low, with his negotiators abruptly terminating a Staff Management Committee session in Mexico City, accused of trying to eliminate Staff Union negotiating rights.

  This follows the New York Staff Union's resolution of "no confidence" in Ban Ki-moon, and a May Day march in front of UN headquarters, protesting their treatment under Ban. Video here.

  Inner City Press has exclusively covered each of these, and each time when questioned Ban's Office of the Spokesperson has indicated that the rift would be solved. But if anything, things have gotten worse.

  The no-confidence resolution was the result of an amendment from the floor by a sub-set of the Union rooted in the Publishing Section, targeted for 99 job cuts. (There are other cuts, still unexplained, set for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations despite it stated build-up for Mali.)

  Now the official president of the union, who at least initially opposed the no-confidence resolution, has sent the e-mail below. Where is this headed? And where is Ban Ki-moon? (The answer is, traveling again, while the UN further decays).

From: NY Staff Union president Barbara Tavora-Jainchill
Date: 06/16/2013 03:12PM
Subject: Management terminates negotiations with staff unions - We are on our own

Dear Colleagues, It is with great disappointment that we inform you that the annual negotiations between the UNís staff unions and global management, held this year in Mexico City, were terminated early by management Friday evening as unions vigorously defended you from attempts to remove negotiating rights.

The abrupt ending of the Staff Management Committee (SMC II) on its third of seven days means that key issues relating to the Secretary-Generalís reform agenda are now left unresolved. These include mobility, introducing more transparent guidelines for downsizing, reviewing the situation of field staff, fixing the internal justice system, travel standards and a hiring freeze to protect General Service staff already on board.

We were surprised management should choose to terminate the meeting so early. Management had introduced a proposal after the document submission deadline to remove unionsí right to negotiate; a right unions had won after four years of dedicated campaigning. Staff unions wanted adequate time to get to the bottom of managementís proposal in order to make sure that a proper negotiating framework would continue to be in place. Management wanted to cut short this agenda item and move onto other issues, proposing to come back to it time-permitting. Staff put two options forward to overcome the disagreement including deferring the issue of negotiating rights to the following session. Management rejected them both and then insisted on the early termination of the meeting.

We continue to believe that a constructive dialogue between staff and management, as set out in the current framework (ST/SGB/2011/6), makes the United Nations strong especially when significant reforms are being proposed that impact staff welfare. We therefore urge management to return to the table and call for SMC to be resumed. Until that meeting is concluded, it goes without saying that none of the Secretary-Generalís proposals on the agenda should be implemented.

We believe the early walk out by management demonstrates a lack of flexibility required for a negotiation and an irresponsible use of resources, both of the organization and of those unions that paid to send delegates to the meeting.

   And amid this, as Inner City Press has also exclusively reported, the UN has been paying $1200 for Romano Prodi to travel from Bologna to Rome - as Ban's envoy on the Sahel, no less. Watch this site.

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