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Amid UN Budget Cuts, Delayed Union Election Irregularities, Term Limits?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 6 -- Amid complaints about UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposed budget cuts from both staff and the Group of 77, the run-up to the Staff Union election is raising questions, not only about term limits but now mis-sent, or seemingly, mis-sent, email.

  Yesterday and today, UN staff received messages, culminating in this:


To: All staff members at the United Nations Secretariat in NY
From: Hesham A Auda, Chairperson, Polling Officers of the 45th Staff Council, United Nations Secretariat in NY
Subject: First call for nominations for the 45th Staff Council and Leadership of the United Nations Staff Union

Yesterday, 5 November 2013, the Polling Officers of the United Nations Staff Union (Polling Officers) issued the first call for nominations for the 45th Staff Council and Leadership of the United Nations Staff Union.

The message to staff members was sent on behalf of the Polling Officers from a company contracted to provide support to us in conducting the electoral process, including electronic voting. The call was issued using the email address (, and showed up as belonging to “United Nations Staff Union”. We regret this unintended error.

At the same time, the Staff Union was fully aware that this message originated from the Polling Officers. Yet, instead of apprising the Polling Officers of the error, an unsigned email from the Staff Union was immediately sent to staff asking them to disregard a legitimate email from the Polling Officers.

Please take serious note that the call for nominations sent by ( was issued by the Polling Officers. We confirm that the general election for the Leadership and 45th Staff Council will be carried out as previously announced.

The Polling Officers encourage all staff to register for remote voting within the registration period indicated, by clicking on the link in the first call for nominations made by the Polling Officers, and participate in the election and selection of the new Leadership and Council.

Staff who didn't or couldn't register during the registration period for any reason will still be able to vote electronically, or request a secured paper ballot in a secret ballot envelope, at the polling stations established by the Polling Officers.

Given the issues, it might be important to get this right.

  This happen as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon proposes budget cuts and the elimination of posts -- that is, jobs. Similar cuts are proposed in the UN Development Program and also UNICEF, with talk of "nodes," under Anthony Lake, outsourcing and off-shoring jobs from New York.

  These were denounced by many speakers at an October 31 meeting of the Staff Union at which the "caretaker" leadership was asked to hold elections. A speaker raising this was cut off in the meeting. Now this has gone out:

Subject: Interference With Election For 45th Staff Council And The Leadership of The UN Staff Union
From: Staff Representative Unit 5
Date: Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM

My fellow staff representatives,

We have just had an Emergency General Meeting on 30 October 2013 where the Staff expressed dismay at the delayed elections. Considering that the Staff Council has been in a "caretaker mode" since July 2013, the Staff Council must not interfere or be seen as attempting to derail the election process which is already underway.

  The Council has pronounced its concern in Resolution No. 37 , "Concerned that the elections for the 45th Staff Council and the leadership of the UN Staff Union have been delayed;" and the Council should not continue with, be a party to or endorse any action that will delay the elections further.

My Unit (Unit 5), strongly disassociates itself from any such attempts to undermine the election process.


Staff Representative Unit 5

  Even the president agreed that the current situation is the worst ever in terms of UN staff - management relations, following the Mexico City meltdown, which Inner City Press covered here.

   A review of the October 31 meeting, beyond the shouting down of insurgents, reflects deep staff concern at the cut-backs. Watch this site.


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