Articles: Message69

Tribute to Robert Falaize (1925-2022)

Category : Message69

Robert Falaize’s coffin was bedecked with the tricolour of France at his funeral ceremony in the church of Notre Dame in Geneva on 8 March 2022. Robert had begun his life of activism at an early age: as mentioned in his ILO job application, at just 17 he became a member in 1942 of the civil and military organization known as the Resistance. Robert was born in Caen in 1925 and his city experienced weeks of fierce fighting and destruction after the June ’44 Normandy landings. He then volunteered for the Free French Forces and was a trainee pilot from 1944 to 1946.

As a teenager, Robert obtained a commercial education diploma. After his military service, he worked for various French local papers as a reporter and subeditor, as well as on the technical side and in sales, and held a press card. In 1949 he was accepted by the ILO for a job as a French-language shorthand typist, category III. In parallel, between 1953 and 1957 he resumed his studies in political science, obtaining a doctorate in Lausanne.

An article he wrote for a French newspaper in 1955 on working conditions in the textile industry brought him to the attention of his superiors. He became secretary/registrar of the ILO Administrative Tribunal. From 1960 onwards, he carried out several missions in Latin America, in particular to the Autonomous Trade Union School in Lima, then to Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, becoming a point of reference in the area of workers’ education through the publication of manuals and bulletins. In 1969 he was assigned to the Mexico Office, then returned to Geneva before being seconded in 1974 to the Paris Office as Deputy Director. He was appointed Director of the Mexico Office in 1979 and awarded the Medal of the Order of the Aztec Eagle of Mexico. In 1982 he retired.

I first met Robert when I joined the Bureau of the Former Officials Section. I was 60 and he was 85. Still a very active member of the ILO’s retiree structure, he had been a founding member of the Section in 1982, feeling the need with a few Union colleagues to set up a body where retired staff could voice their concerns as well as allowing a valuable link to be maintained with ILO employees, the Staff Union and the administration. Robert was, at the time I knew him, still a member of the Editorial Board of Union, the Staff Union magazine, and continued for several years until his strength began to fail him. In 1987 he was the first editor of the Letter to Former Officials, which was succeeded by Message. He was available in 2012 to help revamp the ILO Arts Circle whose president had just passed away. When he left the Bureau of the Former Officials Section in 2016, he was made an honorary member. His wife Carmen, a member of the Arts Circle, was always very much alongside him and a great support.

Robert leaves us at the age of 97 after a long and fulfilling life of service to others and many years of struggle with illness and the inexorable ageing process. His fight for life was the equal of all his engagement over the best part of a century. Robert has entered into our consciousness and remains the exemplar of a militant for us all to follow.

François Kientzler
Executive Secretary
ILO Former Officials Section


Tribute to Gérald Weder (1930-2022)

Category : Message69

Gérald Weder passed away in early February 2022. His funeral at the Petit-Saconnex temple was attended by many of his former ILO colleagues as well as family friends. I hadn’t had the opportunity to know him during his working life: he retired in May 1987, and I started at the ILO in November that same year. I first met Gérald in 2009 when I joined the Bureau of the Former Officials Section. He had just stepped down after standing in as interim Executive Secretary following the death of Mario Tavelli. Gérald was a member of the Bureau for more than two decades and before that had been Chair of the Staff Union Committee.

Gérald took a particular interest in health issues, a field in which he gladly offered advice to former colleagues. Between 2012 and 2014 he was a member of the SHIF Management Committee and had a number of solidly argued articles on these matters published in the Former Officials’ magazine Message. Gérald was a determined person, open to dialogue and always ready and available to others. In the summer of 2020 he came to see me in Ferney-Voltaire accompanied by a retired lady who had administrative problems; he was then 90 years old, always prepared to be of service, to help and advise. I called him many times to seek his counsel.

I had a chance to get closer to him after the death of the ILO Arts Circle’s president when we set about revamping it. Several members of the Former Officials Section saw the need to maintain support for the Circle, and together with Gérald and Robert Falaize we drew up statutes in line with the requirements of ILO Sports and Leisure. Gérald became the treasurer, with annual exhibitions being held in the Colonnades to the satisfaction of the Circle’s artist members, ILO staff and visitors.

Gérald was born on 13 June 1930 in Nyon. After high school he studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Geneva before working as an accountant in the commercial sector. In his application to the ILO in 1951, he indicated that he had mastered the products of the major calculating machine brands. He also listed his typing and shorthand skills, an essential asset to any job application at the time. Successfully applying for the post of administrative assistant, he began his career with the ILO as a G2, going on to end it as a P4. This shows how career development was possible: in 1953 he became a G3, in 1955 a G5, in 1966 a P1 and in 1977 a P4. During his career he held positions in the Administrative and Finance Branch both at headquarters and in Africa, in Addis Ababa as well as Abidjan and Lagos for limited periods.

After taking retirement at the end of March 1987, Gérald had a continuous involvement with retired ILO staff. He participated in all the events organized by the Former Officials Section and was present with his wife Huguette at the twice-yearly receptions for retirees as well as all Arts Circle exhibition openings. Thank you, Gérald, for your constant commitment to the service of others. We will not forget that look, determined yet always genial.

Attached: copy of the letter sent by David A. Morse, ILO Director General, upon his appointment

François Kientzler
Executive Secretary
ILO Former Officials Section


Tribute to Anees Ahmad (1942-2022)

Category : Message69

    Photo Raphael Crowe, Mai 2009

Anees Ahmad, a chartered accountant by training, joined the ILO in 1966, in the Finance Department. He worked his way up to Head of the Regular Budget Unit. He was transfered to the Cabinet of the ILO Director General in 1979, and rose to the position of Chef de Cabinet. From there, Anees was appointed Director of the Financial and Administrative Services Department in 1987. In 1988, he was promoted to Assistant Director General as Treasurer and Financial Comptroller of the ILO. He retired in 2002.

The author of the tribute Zafar Shaheed joined the ILO in 1979, in the Labour Law and Labour Relations Branch, to work in the area of wages until 1999. For the last ten years of his career, he was Director of the Department of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. He retired in 2009, following which he enjoyed working as Co-Editor of ILO Friends’ Newsletter.

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How many things could be said about our Anees, from so many people, so widely was he appreciated and loved. Others in a better position than me could tell you about his brilliant professional career at the ILO. I would like to tell you some personal anecdotes.

Our family’s connection with Anees goes back to his father, who was a senior colleague of my father in the Ministry of Labour in Pakistan. That jovial gentleman then became Director of the Standards Department of the ILO. When my father visited Geneva in the early 1950s as a Government delegate to the Governing Body and the Conference, he continued to see Anees’ father. Once, my father asked him, “Ahmad Sahib, what exactly does your work consist of?” Mr.Ahmad’s response was, “Oh, I don’t do any work. I get people like that excellent Valticos to work. And that’s easy, because he loves work.” An early statement regarding the essence of direction and delegation in bureaucracies. Mr. Valticos became a life-long family friend of the Ahmads, and would take Anees and his elder brother Zaheer skiing and other outings.

Anees would often visit us, once he completed his studies and joined the ILO. When I turned sixteen, he asked my father if he could take me flying. Naturally my father agreed and I was thrilled  at this birthday present. I recall vividly that day, as we flew over the Salève and then the Jura, and he gave me the controls for a while. How exciting. A man of tradition, but abhorring sentimentalism, Anees approached me in turn when my son Ameer turned sixteen: “If your son would like it, I should like to take him flying, with your permission.” Naturally I agreed, and Ameer was as delighted as I had been at the prospect and then the reality of flying with Anees Chacha (uncle).

There are many memories from the ILO, naturally. One is from 1983, when I had gone on home-leave to Pakistan, and returned with the news that I was married, my bride soon to join me. Everyone greeted me with congratulations, except Anees. He hurriedly took me down for a coffee, and with a look of great concern: “What happened? Tell me about it, yaar (buddy). They forced you into getting married, right? You poor fellow…” The confirmed bachelor was convinced that in all sanity, I could not have wilfully gotten married! He may have hoped that I might well be a bachelor-type in the making. In the event, of course, he welcomed my wife Shahnaz with open arms, they became friends and she naturally shares my grief today.

An earlier memory relates to China resuming its rightful seat at the ILO.  Anees had accompanied the Director General Blanchard to China, to open the door. Upon return, he called me to brief me on their visit. Then he said, “Now, we need to introduce the Chinese to our Office and the way it works. Of course, they know all this in theory. But its important that they learn the ropes of the reality that awaits them. There is a special delegation of three officials arriving soon, and I am supposed to guide them. However, I don’t do that sort of work any more. So I would like you to do it.” He obtained permission from my bosses that I be seconded to this task. When I look back at it, it was very much also an introduction to the ILO for me. After all, I was also new to the ILO, and this gave me the intensive opportunity to meet all the technical and administrative units of the Office, along with their bosses, and to learn what they do. Anees made it sound as if I were taking a burden off his hands, but he actually did me a favour, in his unique straightforward manner.

He had such natural charm and vivacious warmth. For me the greatest thing about Anees was his equality of treatment. He treated the Office Director the same way as he treated the doorman or the driver, and treated a Minister the same way as he did a messenger. He treated all alike, and all loved him, women and men, young and old.  In many ways, Anees was larger than life, a big presence difficult not to be impressed by. Only once did I see him looking in awe of someone – and that was with his brother Zaheer. You should have seen the admiration and adoration in Anees’ body language, basking in the glory of his big brother. He seemed delighted to just relax in the shadow of this fellow who was even more daunting a character than himself.

Now that he’s left us, Anees’ shine is even greater. He has gone ahead, and I imagine him standing at the door, holding it ajar for us – with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, and his laugh, guffawing just like his father and his brother Naseer , and smiling bright just like his mum. He’s now reunited with this core family, all beaming out to us down here. Cheers, mate.

Zafar Shaheed
May 2022


List 2022 of former officials who died

Category : Message69

Personnes décédées: informations transmises par le BIT depuis janvier 2022

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

Information communicated by the Office since January 2022

In memoriam: The Bureau of the Section of Former Officials of the ILO Staff Union extends its sincere condolences to the bereaved families of the colleagues whose names are listed below, as it is currently impossible to send more personalised condolences.

 

Mme AMO Mary Elizabeth 09.06.21
M. BAKRI Abdullahi 10.07.21
M. BASTARD Thierry G. 02.12.21
Mme Vve BREDE Ilse 27.01.22
Mme BIGNENS Jacqueline 23.10.21
Mme CRIBELLIER Denise 07.01.22
Mme DAURAU Marguerite 26.12.21
Mme DE BENEDETTI Agnès 22.02.22
Mme DOSSO Christiane 06.03.22
M. FALAIZE Robert 27.02.22
M. GEMMET Yvon Sr. 01.03.22
Mme HARTSHORN Judith 06.03.22
M. KABELKA Vladimir 24.02.22
M. LESUEUR DE GIVRY Jean-Marie 05.04.22
Mme Vve MEYLAN Jeannine 23.01.22
Mme Vve PANT Bhagwati Devi 01.02.22
Mme RATAJSKI Charlotte 13.12.21
M. RICHARD KEITH Johanson 06.03.22
Mme RIVA Maria 25.12.21
M. SCHREGLE Johannes 27.04.22
Mme THEVENOT Clorinda 20.02.22
M. THUKRAL Tilak Raj 17.02.22
Mme WANNAZ Marie-L. 03.01.22
M. WEDER Gérald 04.02.22
M. ZHANG Jiawang 07.02.22