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Wishes of Guy Ryder, DG, ILO

Category : News

Director-General: I am confident we will deliver as One ILO

​​In his new year message, Director-General Guy Ryder thanks staff and recognizes the professionalism, creativity and resilience that ensures that the ILO can continue to deliver during an important year ahead.​

Dear colleagues,

I wish you all a Happy New Year.

I hope that you had chance to relax and recharge your batteries safely with family and friends.

A new year traditionally brings hope of renewal and a better future.

Yet for now at least, we start 2022 with the global pandemic situation still very uncertain and unpredictable.

COVID-19 continues to take a significant human toll worldwide – on health, livelihoods, economies, societies and our own daily working lives.

But, we cannot be discouraged.

Throughout the pandemic we have shown that we are able to deliver as one ILO even in the most difficult circumstances. And I thank you all for your hard work and determination in making this happen.

We have to continue to rise to the challenge of remaining relevant and influential as COVID-19 continues to have its far-reaching impact on the world of work. ​

We will start the new year as we concluded last year by informing and influencing the global policy response to the crisis.

On 17 January, the “World Employment and Social Outlook Trends” report will provide the latest labour market analysis on COVID-19’s impact. Later in the year the ninth edition of the ILO Monitor on COVID-19 will also be published.

In February, the ILO will host the Global Policy Forum for a Human-Centred Recovery from COVID-19. This will be a key moment for the multilateral system and will shape how we work together to deliver on the Global Call to Action.

We will be embarking on the plan of work set out in the 2022-23 Programme and Budget. It’s an ambitious agenda to tackle the enormous challenges faced by the world of work. Drawing on our ability to collaborate across countries and regions, adhering to the highest standards, I am confident we will deliver.

Although it is still too soon to say how they will operate, the Governing Body and the International Labour Conference will continue to take important institutional decisions in 2022. The Conference will decide on inclusion of safe and healthy working conditions as a fundamental principle and right at work and maintain its standard-setting function with a first discussion on apprenticeships.

And, meanwhile, the Governing Body will, in March, elect the next Director-General.

These highlights show that the life and work of the ILO will go forward in 2022 just as it has over the last two years.

It will be a busy and challenging time requiring flexibility, creativity, and resilience. But we have shown that we possess all of these qualities.

At the same time, we need to be attentive to our individual and collective well-being. The Organization has a duty of care to you and we have a duty to each other.

This means we must continue to follow strictly all of the COVID-19 protocols at work and in our daily lives.

It also means ensuring a healthy work-life balance whether we are teleworking or working from our offices around the world.

Yes, we must work effectively but we need also to protect our mental, as well as our physical health. Systems of support are available, so please don’t hesitate to speak up and use them if in need.

This will certainly be a year of change for the ILO.

But our commitment to the values of the ILO and service to constituents remain constant and we must live up to it.

We have seen the best of ourselves in these times of adversity. I know that whatever lies ahead, we will approach it with the same professionalism, ingenuity and pragmatism, that we have shown these last two years.

I wish you and your loved ones a successful, happy and much improved 2022, and I very much look forward to seeing you soon, at least virtually.

Thank you for your continued hard work and commitment.

Guy Ryder
Director-General​​​


Return to generalized teleworking at HQ (December 2021)

Category : News

Following the decisions of the Swiss Federal Council to strengthen COVID-19 related measures announced on 3 December 2021, the Director-General has decided that staff at ILO headquarters should return to generalized teleworking, with the exceptions set out below.

This decision applies from Monday 6 December 2021 until at least 24 January 2022, when the Swiss authorities will further review their measures.

This decision has been taken as a precautionary measure in light of the rapid evolution of the pandemic and the priority that the Office continues to give to ensuring the safety and health of staff.

Exceptions to this requirement to telework shall be colleagues required to:

  • service the ILC, Committee of Experts and other scheduled constituent meetings, or
  • perform on-site essential services as designated by department heads.

These staff will be informed of the requirement for their presence in the building as soon as possible.

Requests by other staff for exceptional access to the HQ building during this period should be submitted to their department director in accordance with the current procedures.

The arrangements and timing of the return of ILO staff to the office will be subject to the evolution of the pandemic and any further decisions by the local authorities.

In implementing these arrangements it is essential that business continuity and effective functioning of the Office is maintained. Therefore the Director-General will convene a meeting of all heads of department on Monday morning 6 December with a view to determining appropriate managerial arrangements. Further information will be provided to staff following that meeting.

In this context, all staff are expected to continue to work from the duty station unless on leave.

Colleagues who need to come into the building to collect work or personal items are requested to do so early next week, and to only remain in the building for the time necessary to do so.

We urge you all to continue to take care of your own health and that of others around you at all times, and particularly when participating in any end-of-year gatherings.

It follows from the above that no end-of-year gatherings will be permitted to take place in the building, and we urge staff to exercise judgement and respect all appropriate health measures outside the building.

We will update with further information on the situation as soon as it is available.

Greg Vines
DDG/MR





ILO Arts Circle Virtual Exhibition 2021

Category : News

Introduction to the exhibition

The ILO Arts and Decoration Circle has been backed by the ILO Former Officials Section for many years. As well as generating artefacts and items of value, artistic activity also helps foster personal development.

Owing to the pandemic, the organization of exhibitions has been curtailed across the world. With the support of a number of Office departments, the Arts Circle has always staged an annual exhibition in the ILO Colonnades. The Circle hopes the exhibition will return there as soon as possible.

Some Circle members have expressed a wish to present their work in virtual form through the use of new technologies, though aware this can never replace a real exhibition. The format has the added advantage of enabling them to keep in touch with each other. Other members have stressed how difficult it is to be creative in a time of pandemic; we know how they feel.

See shots of Circle members’ creations on this web page.

François Kientzler
President
ILO Arts and Decoration Circle



Dr Vali Jamal, 1941-2021 – A Tribute

Category : Message68

We, in the African child rights and development community, are sad to learn of the death of Dr Vali Jamal, a top-notch development economist who cared about the poor and victims of injustice and poverty and one of the founders of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), the leading Pan-African child rights policy and advocacy centre based in Addis Ababa.

Vali had a distinguished academic background and a successful professional career. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied at Stanford University where he earned a PhD in Economics. He spent most of his professional life in the ILO, advising and writing on employment and poverty issues. He joined the ILO as an expert on employment in what was then known as the Jobs and Skills Programme for Africa (JASPA), which was based in Addis Ababa and where I first met him. He later served in various capacities mostly in the World Employment Programme as Senior Economist, with a short stint at the East Asian Multidisciplinary Advisory Team (EASMAT), based in Bangkok, where I was Director. A down-to-earth economist, Vali was always interested in what mattered for poor people and the impact of macro- economic policy on their lives. He was passionate about social justice.  His major preoccupation in economics remained equity, the sharing of the benefits of growth and its impact on income inequality.

Vali was an excellent writer and a meticulous stylist. He was almost never pleased with what he wrote, as a result he seldom let go and I have had, on several occasions, to snatch his drafts from his hands or his desk when he was away. Even so he was a prolific writer. His work covered poverty, inequality, and labour markets in such diverse economies as Somalia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Vietnam, to mention only a few. A list of the publications which he authored or co-authored would include: “Farewell to Farms: De-Agrarianisation and Employment in Africa”; “Structural Adjustment and Labour Markets in Africa”; “Africa Misunderstood, Or Whatever Happened to the Rural-Urban Gap?”; “Tunisia: Rural Labour and Structural Transformation”; “Nomads, Farmers, and Townspeople: Incomes and Inequality in Somalia”; and “Vietnam: Labour and Social Issues in a Transition Economy”.

After he left the ILO, after some 25 years of service, we worked together in the conceptualisation and design of a Pan-African child rights policy and advocacy organisation which later came to be known as the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). He, along with Stefan van der Swaluw from Plan Nederland, subsequently joined me in Addis Ababa to build the foundation and architecture of this organisation and to make it operational. Vali, Stefan and I worked as a very close and tight team, and what became of ACPF was as much due to his effort as to the rest of us. He worked at ACPF for two years, 2003 to 2004 when he decided to move back to his beloved Uganda.

Vali was a passionate Pan-Africanist. He called himself and often signed off as “Kenya citizen and Uganda resident”. He lived his last years in Uganda where he was engaged in a monumental study on Ugandan Asians with a special – though not exclusive – focus on their expulsion in 1972. This book Ugandan Asians: Then and Now, Here and There, We Contributed, We Contribute documents the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in their own words and using archival material. He worked on that book for over 12 years until his death. This book was extremely important for him as one can see from the way he described it. According to Vali – who was good not only with words but also loved numbers – this magnum opus was “2,440 pages, had 10,000 images, 2m words-equivalent, total weight 11.9 kg the equivalent of 75 books!” And never one to miss the opportunity to make a good joke, he calculated the cost to be “US$220,000 – book only; equipment (2005 desktop, no printer, no generator); 25 digital prints periodically; 1 designer ($15 per day), 2 workers. No rent as done from home.”

The significance of this work can be seen from the quotes in the write-up on the cover of the book. President Museveni called it, “A national asset in Uganda’s commercial diplomacy”. “Encyclopaedic, unequalled, an intellectual asset”, according to Makerere University Chancellor Professor Mondo Kagonyera.  “A contribution to Uganda’s intellectual GDP”, according to the Governor of the Bank of Uganda Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile.

Vali died just as the book was being reviewed for publication. I hope we will see it published. It is an enormous contribution to the political, economic and cultural history of East Africa, to the study of the role of migrants in social history, and to the history of Empire at large.

Vali died on 11 July and his funeral took place on 13 July 2021 in his much beloved Kampala. I personally will miss his friendship; his love for ideas and good writing; his anger at injustice; his love of music especially his rendering of the Beatles or Aretha Franklin’s “Killing me Softly”; his sometimes almost insufferable mercurial temperament; and his love for Africa and Africans. He was a good man to the point of being almost childlike and naïve. Oh, such goodness!

May his soul rest in peace.

Assefa Bequele
Founder and Distinguished Fellow, African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)


Update of the return to the office (Geneva ILO headquarters) – 6 July 2021

Category : News

This communication provides an update on the plans for a progressive and safe return to the office of staff at ILO headquarters, which, as previously announced, will start on 2 August 2021.

The positive evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, with reduced levels of contamination and broad access to vaccinations, has allowed further lifting of restrictions in Switzerland and neighbouring France.

I am pleased to say that this situation creates the conditions for welcoming a progressive return of all staff to office, in order to continue our full services under normal conditions of work, while ensuring a safe environment for all staff and visitors present in the building.

Organization of the return to office

All staff who have received medical clearance will return to office as of 2 August 2021, based on the following conditions.

  • The total number of people simultaneously present in the building at any given time will be limited to the maximum safe capacity that respects the requirements of the local health authorities.
  • All directors (D1 and above) will return to the office on a 100% basis.
  • All staff who need to be in the office to perform functions that cannot be done remotely, based on exigencies of the work, nature of the role and responsibilities, will also return to the office on a 100% basis.
  • Managers will need to apply transparency, fairness and equity in distribution of work among staff members performing the same functions and required to be present on site. Work schedules will be developed in consultation with the staff, taking into account the needs of the department or unit and periods of staff leave.
  • Additional staff in departments providing essential services and client support services on premises may be required to be present in the office on a full-time basis to support increased staff presence and activities in the building, to respond to emergencies and to work on projects requiring their presence. These colleagues will be contacted by their managers.
  • All other staff will return to office on a rotational basis, alternating 50% presence at the office and 50% teleworking, regardless of their role or grade. This includes staff in individual offices and staff in shared offices. Exceptionally, some staff in open space offices may be required to telework for more than 50% of the time.
  • Staff members who consider that they cannot work from home for personal reasons can request a return to the office on a 100% basis through HRD (hrd-covid-19@ilo.org).
  • Staff currently authorized to telework out of the Geneva duty station will be required to return to it as soon as possible and no later than 13 September 2021.
  • Following the return to office on 2 August, the regular teleworking procedures as set out in IGDS 141 will apply to all staff at headquarters, taking into account the mandatory 50% teleworking where applicable. Any future adjustments to flexible working time are being negotiated through the established procedures with staff representatives.
  • Individual arrangements for staff presence and rotation, including the frequency of rotation, will be coordinated by department directors in consultation with staff. Further information and guidance to assist in this task will be provided to directors.

Medical clearance

  • Only staff who have received medical clearance will be authorized to return to office.
  • Staff who have not been cleared previously will receive a notification from MEDSERV asking them to inform MEDSERV confidentially about their status, using the online medical declaration portal. MEDSERV will review this information to determine if clearance to return to office can now be granted.
  • Staff who have been medically cleared but whose circumstances have changed should contact MEDSERV (infirmary@ilo.org) for advice.
  • All medical matters will be dealt with by MEDSERV on a strictly confidential basis.

Vaccination status 

  • The Office strongly encourages all eligible staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination will not be a condition for the return to office.
  • All staff will be invited to report their vaccination status confidentially to MEDSERV, using the online medical declaration portal. This reporting is not mandatory, but staff are encouraged to do so. The aggregated data will help inform safety measures as we go forward. A separate communication will be issued with further information.

Safety and health measures

  • The highest priority will continue to be given to the safety, health and well-being of staff. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, comprehensive safety and health measures will continue to apply at the headquarters building, and staff are expected to follow the indications on the signage on offices and meeting rooms carefully.
  • Please remember that you should continue to follow physical distancing and hygiene guidance, wear a mask in all common and shared areas, and that you should stay at home if you feel unwell. These measures will continue to apply even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Further updated details on the safety measures in the building, including special arrangements for the meeting rooms, cafeteria and car parks, will be available on the intranet.

The Office will continue to monitor the situation carefully, in consultation with the WHO and the other Geneva-based UN agencies.

We thank all staff for your continued commitment and will keep you fully informed of progress as we enter this new and welcome phase.

Greg Vines

DDG/MR


Webinar recording: Your health insurance during COVID-19 – 6 July 2021

Category : Message68

The Staff Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) team share an update on SHIF services, coverage and medical expenses dur​ing the COVID-19 pandemic.