Articles: Message68

List 2021 of former officials who died

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Informations transmises par le BIT depuis janvier 2021

Mise à jour au 9 décembre 2021

Le Bureau de la Section des Anciens adresse ses condoléances aux familles des personnes décédées, étant dans l’impossibilité d’envoyer des condoléances plus personnalisées.

M. Al-Attar Hassan Saïd 04.03.21
Mme Alvizuri De Gonzales Laura 05.08.21
M. Andres Antonio 12.10.21
M. Avramenko Vadim 23.02.21
Mme Azab-Doss Ragxa 03.11.20
Mme Azzam Simone 17.01.21
Mme Beguin Antoinette 15.10.21
M. B. Empil Alfredo 18;10.21
M. Benigno Bruno 12.10.20
M. Vve Boglietti Corio Irma 23.10.21
Mme Boile Danielle 07.10.21
Mme Bonjour Jacqueline 22.04.21
Mme Vve Brown-Lana Irene 30.12.20
M. Burle De Figueiredo Jose Bernado 15.07.21
M. Charpentier Efrain Alberto Ulloa 23.07.21
Mme Chuard Monique A. 10.11.21
M. Constable John Olver 25.01.21
M. Vf Cristiano Adolfo 20.10.21
Mme Vve De Los Cobos Galina 02.04.21
Mme Vve Dunkel Johanna 04.07.21
M. Duraiappah Kandiak 15.07.21
Mme Egger Jeanne 03.03.21
Mme Frachet Huguette 22.03.21
M. Frossard Jean-Pierre 18.11.21
Mme Vve Gallet Hélène 30.05.21
M. Gillet Michel J.P. 04. 01.21
M. Giusti Bertolotti Jorge 30.08.21
Mme Vve Gladstone Gloria 06.10.21
Mme Gogarty Anne 01.11.20
M. Grostabussiat René 12.03.21
M. Guido Salvi 06.11.21
Mme Hadiarti Sri 15.10.21
Mme Vve Hainut Jacqueline 15.07.21
Mme Vve Hislaire Joan 11.07.21
M. Htay Soe 24.07.21
M. Jimenez-Sanchez Victor Hugo 30.01.21
   Mme Kalember Solaja 04.11.20
Mme Vve Karaba Sigrun 16.01.21
M. Klotz Valentin 29-01.21
Mme Kunze-Neubauer Elinor 06.04.21
Mme Laverriere Julia Mary 24.02.21
M. Marian Roland 19.03.21
M. Mathew Thottupurath 01.06.21
M. Mayer Jean Philippe 13.02.21
Mme McGee Ingeborg 30.04. 21
M. Mesli Omar 30.07.21
Mme Vve Money Lucienne 01.01.21
Mme Moreno-Butt Rizalina P. 14.05.21
Mme Muller Annie 16.07.21
M. Murphy Bryan Michael 09.07.21
Mme Vve Musitelli Lucie 03.03.21
M. Nicolier Alain André 08.01.21
M. Niculescu Ion 28.06.21
Mme Vve Nyitrai Martine 02.06.21
M. Pilvio Pekka Juhani 26.05.21
Mme Rojas Jeanne-Suzanne 20.04.21
Mme Rosnoblet Alice 28.04.21
M. Sacco Luciano 20.04.21
Mme Scarto Francese Maria Concetta 25.02.20
Mme Vve Siletto Bianca Catherina 27.08.20
M. Singh Har Mander 17.11.20
M. Schwager François 18.06.21
Mme Stosic Stefanovic Milja 06.01.21
M. Torres Joachim 04.12.20
Mme Tschyrkow Nathalie 20.01.21
Mme Valette De Gaetano Marie-Thérèse 06.12.20
M. Vali Jamal Valimohamed Ismail 11.07.21
Mme Vve Vuagnat Jacqueline 22.03.21
M. Wrzosowski Ryszard Roman 04.12.20


Dr Vali Jamal, 1941-2021 – A Tribute

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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)

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

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

Reply of the ILO HRD Director (16 June 2021) to the letter of the Bureau of the Former Officials Section

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Dear Mr Kientzler,

I refer to your letter of 9 June 2021 and would like to start by thanking you for the role that you and the Bureau of the Former Officials Section have played and continue to play in the context of the current pandemic. Your efforts and initiatives to facilitate contacts between the Office and the community of former officials have been much appreciated, especially in this difficult context.

We look forward to welcoming you and all former colleagues to the Office as soon as possible. However, unfortunately, we are not yet at the end of the tunnel. The policy measures taken in the wake of Covid-19, including widespread access to vaccination, have significantly improved the situation, but the pandemic remains.

The ILO’s senior management continues to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely and to make decisions based on the local epidemiological situation, the recommendations of the WHO and the host country and in consultation with other UN agencies. As always, the Office gives the highest priority to the safety and health of staff and visitors, including our former colleagues.

The latest decisions by the Swiss authorities confirm the gradual reopening in the country. However, teleworking continues to be recommended, and an increased return to the office is only possible under strict, specific conditions, including weekly testing of all staff who are present, reflecting the ongoing risks associated with the pandemic.

Taking all these factors into account, the Director General has decided to maintain the existing restrictions on access to the headquarters building. In addition, mandatory teleworking will continue to apply to all ILO headquarters staff until 2 August 2021.

During the interim period, the Office will develop updated policies and plans guiding the return to the office which will be communicated to all staff. As part of these arrangements, I anticipate that it will be possible to grant access for you yourself to work in the Section’s office, as was the case during the partial return to the office in 2020. However, due to the planned occupancy limitations, which are required for security and health purposes, it is unlikely that access will be granted to other members of the Bureau, with the exception of a deputy able to visit the office in your absence. In any case, these aspects will be considered in more detail once the new back-to-the-office policies are implemented.

With regard to the other issues you have raised, I would like to provide the following clarifications.

Regarding the entry badges of former officials, I confirm that the expiry date indicated on the badge does indeed remain in force. Therefore, when – and only when – the office premises are open to external visitors, badge holders will have to go to the accreditation office to have their badges renewed. For your own badge, renewal can be arranged during one of your visits to the office, as mentioned above.

As for communications sent out by the SHIF, I would like to confirm that, as already explained by the Fund’s Executive Secretary, all relevant information has continued to be distributed in hard copy by post to all retired insured members. In this connection, I wish to take this opportunity to ask for your help in continuing to promote the use of SHIF Online within the pensioner community, as this tool can greatly improve the level of services they get from the SHIF as well as the speed of their reimbursement. I would also like to inform you that an English-language webinar dedicated to reimbursements will be organized by the SHIF on 1 July at 2pm (CEST) for all insured members (active and retired) to explain the measures taken by the Fund in the context of the pandemic. Invitations will be sent out in due course and I count on your cooperation in encouraging the pensioner community to attend this important event, where they will have the opportunity to ask the SHIF team specific questions.

Regarding the reception for retired officials, I have taken note of your request and would like to assure you that the Office will continue to organize this event as usual, as soon as the health situation returns to normal and the premises of the Office can be safely used to hold large-scale meetings and events. Based on the current situation, however, it does not seem likely we can envisage organizing such an event before the end of this year.

With regard to the pre-retirement seminar, I would like to inform you that this activity was organized for ILO staff in autumn 2020 in virtual form and with a very reduced programme. In the spring of 2021, the seminar was again organized in virtual form in cooperation with UNOG and other agencies, and we are planning to offer our staff additional sessions this autumn. We will keep you informed of the dates of these sessions.

I would also like to thank you for the assistance provided by the Bureau of the Former Officials Section on matters relating to the Pension Fund. Owing to the closure of the UNJSPF premises, the ILO Pension Unit is receiving a growing number of enquiries from retired officials and their families, which we are unable to answer. It is therefore of the utmost importance to inform the pensioner community that enquiries concerning the Pension Fund for former ILO staff members, retirees, beneficiaries, survivors and family members should be addressed to the Pension Fund’s offices in Geneva or New York and that the ILO Pension Unit is not in a position to deal with their after-service pension issues.

In conclusion, let me assure you that the Office remains committed to a strong partnership with the Bureau of the Former Officials Section. We just need to be patient and continue to follow strict security measures to overcome the challenges of the pandemic together without placing any of our colleagues or former colleagues at risk, in order to return to a normal working environment as soon as possible. During this period, my team and I remain at your disposal for any virtual discussion and exchange of information you may require.

Yours sincerely,

André Bogui, Director

In memory and in the form of a tribute to Jean-Jacques Oechslin (French version)

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En souvenir et en forme d’hommage à Jean-Jacques Oechslin par Jean-François Retournard, Mars 2021, pendant le troisième confinement.

Note de l’auteur : Jean-Jacques Oechslin dont nous publions un portrait ci-dessous fut Président du Groupe des employeurs pendant de longues années et à ce titre Vice-président du Conseil d’administration de 1979 à 1998 puis Président de ce même conseil en 1995-1996 et enfin élu Président de la CIT en1998.

L’auteur est un ancien fonctionnaire du Bureau affecté au Bureau des activités pour les employeurs dont il fut le directeur pendant quelques années. A ce titre il collabora étroitement avec Jean-Jacques Oechslin.

Le 28 juin 2017, Jean-Jacques Oechslin nous quittait. Il est plus que temps que ceux qui ont eu l’honneur de travailler avec lui, et j’ai eu la chance d’être de ceux-là pendant toute ma vie professionnelle, lui rendent l’hommage qui lui est dû.

Il ne s’agit pas dans ces quelques notes de rappeler sa carrière et les responsabilités qui furent les siennes au patronat français, à l’OIT et à l’OIE.  C’est plutôt l’homme et ses qualités que je voudrais évoquer ici à grands traits.  Avec le recul, le relief apparaît plus nettement, notamment les grandes lignes de son action, les axes majeurs qui ont orienté sa vie professionnelle. Au service de l’Organisation, Jean-Jacques Oechslin a apporté ses grandes qualités personnelles et ses compétences professionnelles qui ne l’étaient pas moins.  Jean-Jacques Oechslin était un honnête homme au sens ancien du terme, pratiquant la modération en tout et en toutes circonstances mais sans faiblesse ni renoncement. Beaucoup de simplicité et de naturel avec une grande vivacité d’esprit, une curiosité intellectuelle toujours en alerte et un sens de l’humour jamais en défaut. Intègre et attentif aux choses et aux gens, persévérant sans être opiniâtre, il se connaissait bien et savait suivre son chemin. De la patience enfin et une capacité d’écoute nourrie du respect de ses partenaires et de ses interlocuteurs. Le portrait ne serait pas complet si on n’y ajoutait pas une grande fidélité en amitié et la capacité de nouer des liens avec des personnalités très différentes venues de tous bords et de tous horizons.

Il connaissait le français, le parlait clairement et l’écrivait avec exactitude et concision. Il n’avait pas oublié le latin de ses « humanités », ni le grec, suffisamment pour aimer la philosophie. Il pratiquait bien sûr l’anglais , déjà lingua franca de ce temps, mais aussi l’italien, l’espagnol sans oublier les grandes langues de culture que sont l’allemand et le russe.  Ce serait exagérer de dire qu’il pratiquait toutes ces langues avec aisance mais il en savait suffisamment pour apprécier ce qui se disait et se pensait avec ces mots. Nous étions bien loin du « globish » standardisé, unifié et obligatoire qui nous appauvrit aujourd’hui.

Il écrivait vite et bien, d’un jet et sans rature : « ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément ». Le texte avait été pensé avant d’être écrit.

 Avec toutes ces qualités, de grandes compétences : l’esprit de décision, le sens des responsabilités et des réalités ; une juste appréciation de la durée et du temps ; l’esprit tactique et le goût de l’initiative et de l’innovation. Je n’en donnerai qu’un exemple : la Déclaration sur les principes et droits fondamentaux au travail (juin 1998) qui, sans lui,  n’aurait jamais vu le jour.

J’ajouterai pour compléter et finir, un authentique esprit international. Ceci va bien sûr avec la curiosité intellectuelle, les connaissances historiques, humaines et culturelles et le respect des autres. Honnête homme, homme de bien, homme de culture, culture politique, historique, profondément humaine et humaniste sans oublier la dimension spirituelle discrète mais bien présente.

Tout ceci à l’évidence a posé quelques problèmes surtout quand on a commencé à confondre internationalisme et mondialisation. Aux bourrasques hivernales venues de l’Est a succédé un fort vent d’Ouest aussi tempétueux.  En voulant garder le cap, Jean-Jacques Oechslin s’est trouvé ou plutôt a été mis en porte-à-faux, parfois avec ses amis même dans son Groupe (trop souvent), assez rarement avec les travailleurs sauf quand il le fallait, par rapport au Bureau fréquemment,  mais jamais par rapport à l’Organisation et à ses valeurs.

Ce sont justement ces valeurs qui ont permis à Jean-Jacques Oechslin de garder le cap, des valeurs qu’il a servies avant qu’il ne soit expédient d’en parler.

Quels furent ses combats ?

La défense de la démocratie et de l’économie de marché qui devaient se conforter mutuellement et marcher d’un même pas, combat minoritaire à l’époque et que beaucoup trouvaient illégitime, y compris au sein de l’Organisation et du Bureau.

Défense de la liberté d’entreprendre et de la liberté dans toutes ses composantes, au premier rang desquelles se rangent la liberté d’organisation et la liberté syndicale.  Je mentionnerai ici à titre d’exemple l’interminable débat sur la structure et les attaques très dures du bloc communiste et de ses compagnons de route contre l’autonomie du Groupe des employeurs. Jean-Jacques Oechslin était en première ligne et si ces combats n’avaient pas été gagnés, les bases mêmes du Tripartisme disparaissaient.

Autre exemple : son attachement au Comité de la liberté syndicale dont il a été membre tant qu’il a été Président du Groupe. Il considérait ce mandat comme sa responsabilité la plus éminente.

Défense et illustration mais aussi pratique du Tripartisme et du dialogue social (on pense ici au rocher de Sisyphe) pour lesquels il a su trouver et pu compter sur des appuis indispensables tant au Bureau que chez les travailleurs. Rien n’aurait été toutefois possible sans le soutien permanent des responsables politiques du patronat français,  au premier rang desquels on doit citer François Ceyrac et Yvon Chotard (avant son avatar gouvernemental) avec l’appui indéfectible politique et humain de l’UIMM depuis 1919. Ces hommes d’envergure, très informés des réalités du monde, étaient sans illusion sur les manques et les faiblesses de l’OIT et du BIT mais ils ont constamment  gardé à l’esprit ce qui était le plus important, les grands enjeux que je viens de rappeler et donc le soutien que l’action de Jean-Jacques Oechslin à l’OIT devait recevoir.

Quels furent les grands axes de cette action ?

En premier lieu, je citerai la vision à long terme et la longue durée. Jean-Jacques Oechslin avait travaillé avec Pierre Waline qui fut Président du Groupe de 1953 à 1970 et qui avait participé à la première CIT en 1919 et à toutes celles qui ont suivi jusqu’à ce que lui-même prenne la relève. C’est dire qu’il avait une connaissance intime de l’Organisation sur la longue durée, indispensable pour mettre les actions dans leur juste perspective. Ceci était possible à l’époque  dans un monde plus stable et moins pressé, où les institutions étaient respectées et où on faisait « carrière » dans son métier.

A cela s’ajoutait une analyse politique solide, loin des émotions du moment et une vision globale de la  place et de l’action de l’Organisation dans la vie internationale tant sociale qu’économique et politique. Jean-Jacques Oechslin avait conscience que le monde d’avant la mondialisation n’était pas cloisonné mais articulé. Il ne séparait pas la politique sociale nationale du niveau régional (européen en l’occurrence) et international. C’était se heurter aux résistances de tous ceux, fort nombreux, qui ne raisonnaient qu’en fonction de leur environnement immédiat où qu’ils fussent placés et des contingences de l’heure. Cette ampleur de vues, ces convictions fortes et ces grandes qualités n’ont pas toujours été comprises,  surtout quand se sont affirmés le conservatisme étroit, les mirages insulaires et l’opportunisme utilitariste à courte vue qui a cru que son heure était venue dans un monde qu’on croyait pacifié.

Son engagement s’est poursuivi  même au-delà de ses fonctions,  puisque dès sa retraite, il a dépensé beaucoup d’énergie et de persuasion pour fonder en 2001 l’Association française pour l’OIT en dépit de résistances multiples et des lourdeurs bureaucratiques que chacun connaît.  Il faut aussi saluer, au moment de conclure, la contribution de son épouse sans qui rien de tout cela n’eût été possible. Elle sut non seulement accepter les charges que cet engagement signifiait pour elle et pour sa famille, mais partager ses idéaux et participer à leur réalisation.

Il faut arrêter là ce témoignage personnel. C’est un bien modeste et tardif tribut à l’homme qui a mis beaucoup de talent et d’énergie et pendant très longtemps au service de l’Organisation.  A tel point que j’en ai été parfois interloqué ou dubitatif. Son engagement était profond et désintéressé. Il rejoignait ses convictions les plus profondes. J’ai mis très longtemps à le comprendre mais aujourd’hui, avec le recul du temps, je puis dire que je les partage et je souhaite ardemment qu’elles servent au renouveau de notre Organisation et trouvent un écho et un relais dans les trois Groupes qui la composent et parmi mes anciens collègues.

Certains trouveront sans doute ce témoignage partial. Il l’est. Incomplet il l’est. Libre à chacun de le corriger ou de le compléter.

Report of the 341st Session of the ILO Governing Body

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The 341st Session of the ILO Governing Body was held from 15 to 27 March 2021 by videoconference. It began with opening remarks by Director General Guy Ryder and the presentation of the 2022-23 Programme and Budget proposals. There was remote participation via the Zoom platform.

The technology helped proceedings run smoothly. There were 977 accredited delegates, compared with around 750 in normal sessions. The GB dealt with as many items as in a regular session. Some 27 decisions were discussed and settled in the virtual sittings. Decisions on 11 items were taken before the session and a further ten will be decided by correspondence in the coming weeks.

Decisions were able to be adopted at any time during the session by a show of hands or electronically. Discussions were held on the following issues: Institutional Section (INS); Policy Development Section (POL); Legal Issues and International Labour Standards Section (LILS); Programme, Financial and Administrative Section (PFA).

On 27 March the Governing Body decided that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) would be held virtually in two separate parts.

A first part, from 3 to 19 June 2021, would deal with all agenda items except items IV (inequalities and the world of work) and VI (skills and life-long learning). The opening sitting would be held on Thursday 20 May 2021.

The dates for the second part of the ILC will be determined at a later stage.

During this 341st Session of the GB, taking into account the serious and negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ILO Workers’ Group on 27 March adopted a statement on “vaccine equity as a precondition for a sustainable and socially just recovery”.

The statement denounces discrimination, reaffirms the principles of solidarity and the need to promote dialogue, and emphasises the importance of universal, free and immediate access to safe and tested vaccines for all people in the world. It stresses the need to act now and put people before profit and in the interest of a sustainable and equitable recovery everywhere.

Abdoulaye Lélouma Diallo
Assistant Executive Secretary
ILO Former Officials Section

SHIF schedule of benefits and ceilings / Jean-François Santarelli

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Jean-François Santarelli, Bureau member of the Former Officials Section

Note submitted to the Bureau meeting of 4 November 2020

Profiting from the presence of Florian Léger (SHIF Executive Secretary) and Pierre Sayour (Management Committee Chairperson), I would like to make a suggestion to the Management Committee about the schedule of benefits. The latter is, I believe, generally very much appreciated by participants. However, as the schedule was updated three years ago, it is admittedly, like any update, no longer completely “current”. In most countries there is inflation in health costs, often well above the rise in the cost of living. This is particularly true in Switzerland, as Health Minister Alain Berset recently pointed out.

The SHIF schedule of benefits provides for 80% reimbursement of health costs plus a supplementary benefit scheme. This system largely ensures that members are not unduly penalised by health cost inflation. However, the situation is different for benefits limited by a reimbursement ceiling. In this case, cost inflation leads to an ever-increasing gap between the ceiling and actual health costs, which penalises participants, especially pensioners, who cannot benefit from an increase in their pension.

In some cases, for example that of pensioners in Switzerland who have chosen to receive their pensions in local currency, there has been no uprating of pensions for four years because the benchmark inflation rate has remained too low. This has not been the case for the inflation rate of health costs over the same period.

A typical example is long-term care, particularly in institutions. In Switzerland, the basic rate in an EMS (care home) varies from 7,500 to 8,000 Swiss francs a month, to which is almost always added a monthly supplement of between 400 and 1,500 Swiss francs, depending on the resident’s level of dependency. There are thus appreciable expenses outstanding in relation to SHIF benefits, which are nevertheless quite substantial compared with other insurance schemes. On this point, still in Switzerland where many pensioners live, it should be noted that the authorities, for reasons of economy, no longer systematically seek to ensure that pensioners on retiring join the AVS (Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance) scheme and thereafter benefit from social assistance.

As the SHIF Management Committee did three years ago, a working group should in my view be tasked with updating the schedule of benefits’ current ceilings. Retired members of the Management Committee could usefully participate in this working group as could, if necessary, members of the Bureau of the Former Officials Section.

Thought should also be given to a more or less automatic system of annual updating of these ceilings in line with observed increases in expenditure in the relevant sectors. This would avoid having to raise the question of updating certain ceilings and benefits every few years, with varying degrees of difficulty.

General Meeting of the ILO Staff Union – Thursday 25 February 2021, by videoconference

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In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on ILO access for staff, most of them teleworking, the General Meeting of the ILO Staff Union to draw up the programme for the current year was held by videoconference. Sandhu Gurchaten was elected chair of the meeting.

Remarks by the Chairperson of the Staff Union Committee

Union Chairperson Catherine Comte-Tiberghien began the meeting by recalling that the previous day, the Committee had met by videoconference with Guy Ryder, Director General. Traditionally held at the beginning of each year, this meeting was open to all staff, thanks to video technology but also to the Committee’s desire to involve staff as much as possible in this type of interaction where no confidentiality is involved. She also recalled that in November 2020, a global meeting of Union Stewards – again by videoconference – had set out the Union’s objectives for the next five years. In her view, the Union must constantly reinvent itself, especially in this period of crisis, to further its objectives and means of action.

Social dialogue and action plan

In the programme of action proposed to participants in the General Meeting, priority was given to social dialogue within the house, the cornerstone of all other action. During this year of pandemic, dialogue has functioned at headquarters in the interests of both the Office and the staff. This was essential in view of the teleworking that had been in place for many months. The meetings were positive. Other priorities identified and outlined by the Chairperson for the coming year included job security, career development, occupational health and safety, staff mental health, equity in personnel policies in the different workplaces (between headquarters and the field offices), the future of the Organization after the Covid-19 pandemic, and the protection and independence of the international civil service. The Union needs to become stronger and better organized; and information needs to flow more easily among members in the different offices.

Remuneration and job security

On the status and remuneration of officials, Catherine Comte-Tiberghien referred to the deadlock around cost-of-living surveys in various duty stations; the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) had undertaken to review the evaluation methods. She also mentioned that only the ILO had introduced a collective bargaining process between staff and the administration, while other organizations continued to be governed by the operation of so-called joint bodies. Precarious contracts had proliferated in recent years and the question arose of end-of-contract compensation for the staff concerned. A campaign is under way for the creation of an unemployment insurance scheme.

In this regard, François Kientzler, Executive Secretary of the Former Officials Section, recalled that on an experimental basis, unemployment insurance had been contracted in the past with an external agency, but after a short period of operation it was stopped because of the high cost of the insurance for the staff concerned. In his view, the compensation of staff on limited contracts in the event of termination of employment would be the responsibility of the employer itself, as is the case in some countries where the State is obliged to compensate its employees when they are separated.

Meeting with the Director General

After the adoption of the programme of activities and budget, the Union Chairperson returned to the topic of the previous day’s meeting with the Director General. At a time when the watchword is “One ILO”, one of the concerns put to the DG was the unequal treatment of staff in different duty stations; equity is not respected; staff are often disillusioned and demotivated. This is also the case for staff involved in technical cooperation programmes, where financial issues take precedence over human aspects. The situation at the Turin Centre is also tense; collective bargaining to find adequate solutions is struggling to function. The DG should become more involved in the effective functioning of collective bargaining in the field offices.

Other issues raised

In duty stations like Ankara, cost-of-living issues are essential for local staff, given variations in exchange rates. Staff in external offices must remain protected by ILO health insurance, and outside solutions with private, for-profit companies do not provide coverage in line with the Organization’s ideals and principles. The hiring of interns has been suspended for the past year while staff are working from home; the policy on interns has been supported by the Union, which had secured remuneration for them.

Intervention by the Executive Secretary of the Former Officials Section

Under “Other business”, François Kientzler referred to the situation of pensioners – 2,500 are listed in the Office’s register of retired staff – not all of whom receive high pensions, especially widows. Healthcare costs are exploding in Switzerland, while pensions have not been upgraded for several years. The social life of pensioners is greatly affected by Covid-19 and they often suffer depression, with few positive prospects other than vaccination. Despite operational difficulties, the Bureau of the Former Officials Section stands ready to respond to all requests from retired officials, continuing to communicate with them by email and telephone, as well as keeping them informed via the website in particular.

Concluding the meeting, Catherine Comte-Tiberghien thanked participants and particularly the chair. She hoped that staff would remain mobilised to defend the action programme that had just been adopted.

François Kientzler
Executive Secretary
Former Officials Section
24 February 2021

Outcomes: Special Session of the Pension Board – February 2021

Category : Message68

Message sent on behalf of Martha Helena Lopez, Chair of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board.

Main outcomes of the 68th (Special) Session of the Board on governance issues of the Board.

The sixty-eighth (special) session of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board was held as a virtual meeting from 2 to 5 February 2021. The Board focused entirely on the issue of its governance, based on the recommendations made by an external entity, a progress report of the Governance Working Group of the Board, inputs received from the different Staff Pension Committees, and guidance received from the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 75/246.

The Board reached several important conclusions that should enhance its overall effectiveness, while at the same time issues related to its size and composition will continue to be discussed by the Governance Working Group, with a view to coming to substantive conclusions at the next (July) session of the Board.

1. The Board reiterated its main principles of tripartite representation and consensus-based decision making. It was recognized that the principle of rotation of seats to reflect the UN system’s diversity should be maintained.
2. The Board tasked the Governance Working Group to present concrete proposals on the size and composition of the Board based on a number of criteria such as ensure optimum effectiveness, performance and efficiency and respect for the origins and unique nature of the Fund and relevant decisions by the General Assembly. The Governance Working Group is also invited to explore creative and innovative ideas.
3. The Board looked into the roles of its different committees and working groups to
keep the balance of responsibilities between the Board and its committees under review. Here also, the Governance Working Group is requested to present concrete proposals for the next Board in July. The Board also highlighted the importance of dealing with appeals cases in a timely manner.
4. The Board reiterated the importance of transparency, outreach and effective
communication with the different Staff Pension Committees, participants and
beneficiaries of the Fund. The Board also recognized the operational need for the Chief Executive of Pension Administration to ensure timely consultations with the applicable decision-making body of the Board. Overall, the Board agreed to have more frequent meetings, which should be based on operational needs and improved strategic planning.
5. The Board recognized the importance of Board members being fully aware of their
fiduciary roles and duties. It was decided that more information and learning
opportunities should be provided on this topic. In that regard, the Board encourages all Staff Pension Committees to recognize the importance of selecting Board members that meet the requirements in terms of availability, professionalism and competencies to exercise fiduciary responsibilities on the Board.
6. The Board also decided to look closely into enhancing the institutional memory of the Board and continuity of its membership, inter alia through nominations by the Staff Pension Committees that take into account appropriate term lengths.
7. The Board decided to give due consideration to better defining its role, purpose and culture to ensure more effective discharge of its mandate. In that regard, the
methodology for its self-evaluation will be reviewed and the adherence to its code of
conduct will be considered at its 69th Session in July 2021.

In March, the Board will submit a progress report to the United Nations General Assembly as an update of the discussion on governance.