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Amid UNDP Layoffs, Staff Unions Write Ban About Clark, Transparency IV

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 5, more here -- Layoffs at the UN Development Program have been a subject of Inner City Press' reporting since last week, and now more documents and comparisons are emerging.

  Three UN system staff unions have written to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, about and with a cc to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark:

The three staff federations of the United Nations Common System would like to express their deep concern as well as the disappointment of their staff around the world with regards to the severe cuts being made to posts at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

We understand that these cuts were undertaken in utmost secrecy, without due consultation, and in direct violation of the principles expressed in General Assembly Resolution 128.

Furthermore, the speed at which they are being made will have a seriously deleterious impact on UNDP staff; this from an organization that claims on its website to "empower lives."

The federations are not aware of this being prompted by a financial crisis and have yet to see evidence that cutting 30 per cent of the staff will make UNDP more rather than less fit to serve its purpose.

Regardless of the delegation of authority that UNDP enjoys, UNDP staff are UN staff, hired under the UN staff regulations. In this context we do not believe that the provisions of Chapter 8 of the staff regulations, requiring consultation on this issue, were adhered to.

We therefore ask that you, as UN Secretary-General, intervene in this matter to put the restructuring on hold and to remind the UNDP Administrator of the UN staff rules and regulations, to which she is legally bound.

   For many weeks there have been rumblings about “Helen Clark's cut backs” at UNDP, the UN Development Program.

   Last week the rumbling spiked, with the UNDP staff union holding a meeting in the UN's basement on May 29 to discuss the loss of up to 30% of UNDP's jobs in New York.

  So on May 31 when Helen Clark re-tweeted praise of her visit to Belarus from her representative in the country, Sri Lankan national Sanaka Samarasinha, Inner City Press replied: "What about the UNDP layoffs?"

   The response came not from Helen Clark -- who rarely if ever holds question and answer press availabilities at the UN in New York -- but from Samarasinha, that the UNDP layoffs "must always be transparent & being fit for purpose. We strive toward that end."

  Inner City Press thanked Samarasinha, adding it will try to make the proposed layoffs transparent. In that spirit, we publish this letter.


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