The Section of Former ILO Officials is open to all retired ILO staff, regardless of whether they worked at the Geneva Headquarters or in one of the field offices. Its executive body, the Bureau, comprises 10 members and generally meets every two weeks (except in summer). The Section has an office (6-06) close to the Union offices on the 6th floor and communicates with its members by e-mail, letters, through its biannual bulletin Message and through its website (http://www.anciens-bit-ilo.org).
This year, 2019, was marked by the ILO Centenary Celebrations, in which retirees participated with the kind agreement of Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General. Contacts and meetings with representatives of the administration, including Protocol, DCOMM, Archives, REPRO, DISTRIBUTION and INSERV, have strengthened the links between the Section and the ILO administration and staff. Successful working meetings brought very positive results for our association’s participation in the Centenary Celebrations. The Section’s call to its members resulted in the collection of around 100 contributions, which have for the most part already been posted on the Section’s website as well as published in Message, particularly Nos. 62, 63 and 64. More will be available in the following issues.
After participating in the launch of the Centenary in January 2019, retirees were able to attend various themed conferences organized by the various ILO departments during this year. Two major events were also celebrated by retirees themselves. On 28 May 2019, at the initiative and invitation of the Section, more than 400 retirees gathered in the Governing Body room to discuss videos and testimonies regarding key moments in history in which the ILO was actively involved: in particular the defense of the Solidarity Union in Poland and the end of apartheid in South Africa. The Director-General honoured this event by opening the meeting and participating throughout. After the Meeting, participants then moved to the Espace Gobelins for a cocktail offered by the Section. Then, on 11 July 2019, about 300 retirees and their spouses met at the invitation of the Director-General, for a Centenary lunch; the key moment of which was the sharing of the birthday cake.
Both events were highly appreciated by the participants. Additional information, including videos and photos of these events are available on our website (see address above) under the heading “Centenary”. The exhibition by the ILO Arts and Decoration Circle on the theme of the ILO Centenary, as well as an exhibition of stamps evoking 100 years of ILO action, accompanied these events. The Section of Former Officials will also be present in the organization of the centennial celebrations of the ILO Staff Union in 2020.
The office of the Section is adjacent to those of the Union. This physical proximity with the Union facilitates permanent contacts and regular cooperation with the Union secretariat, the President and the Secretary General as well as with the other members of the Committee. The exchanges concern in particular issues of common interest such as the Staff Health Insurance and Pension Funds. We supported the Union’s action against the reduction in the salaries of professionals in Geneva and we were delighted by the magnificent staff mobilization that took place in the spring of 2018. We learned at the beginning of this summer that the action taken at the ILO Administrative Tribunal, initiated, encouraged and supported by the Union, was successful.
One of the constant concerns of the Section of Former Officials is the operation and maintenance of our Staff Health Insurance Fund (SHIF). We have intervened repeatedly on personal cases with the SHIF; and we are delighted that the Fund’s revised Statutes and Regulations have now been printed and distributed to pensioners, who, fin many cases, do not use the internet. The previous publication dates back more than ten years so this new edition was essential given the changes made in recent years to the Statutes and Regulations, notably concerning certain preventive and alternative medical procedures.
Representatives of the Bureau of the Section of Former Officials participate in the Board of AAFI-AFICS Geneva. Various associations of retirees of International Organizations are members of this Board. The Board discusses information on pension and health protection issues that is regularly submitted to the United Nations, in particular the functioning of the Pension Fund and the future of the health funds regarding ASHI (After Service Health Insurance). According to the latest information available to us, a reorganization will be undertaken at the offices of the Pension Fund in Geneva and their move to the WMO premises, near the rue de Lausanne, is scheduled for the end of the year.
The Section continues its work of maintaining contact and communicating with retirees. We regularly update the Section’s website (http://www.anciens-bit-ilo.org), not only with information that concerns retirees directly, but also with news from the ILO such as the Union’s actions mentioned above. We invest a lot of time to keep the site alive and up to date but neither do we neglect the publication of Message, which is valued and expected by many retirees, and which also requires much work and effort. Thank you to all those who contribute to it; as we always call on volunteers to help with translations and proofreading or to submit articles.
The Section participates in the annual Pre-retirement Seminar and we take the opportunity on this occasion to welcome participants individually and exchange a few words with them. This contact is very important to encourage future retirees to join the Section of Former Officials. Indeed, although the ILO offers facilities to the Section, if we are to continue our activities and provide help to retirees, we also need financial resources. Many new retirees are reluctant to join us and say that Message and the Section’s website are available to them free of charge. Although the members of the Bureau are all working on your behalf on a voluntary basis, we need to finance a secretary and a web master in order to maintain our activities. We invite all future retirees to become members of the Section. As is the case every year, representatives of the Section will be present and participate in the Pre-Retirement Seminar in November 2019.
The Section of Former Officials supports the ILO Arts and Decoration Circle (a member of the Sports and Leisure Association), which organizes an annual exhibition at the ILO. Finally, the invitation of retirees by the Director General to the annual receptions in May and December in Geneva are an important and special opportunity to meet with former ILO staff. The participation of the Director-General in these receptions is always much appreciated.