Activities of the Section of Former ILO Officials 2015
During 2015, the Bureau of the Section has pursued its efforts to defend its members’ interests, in particular in relation to the Pension Fund (UNJSPF) and the Health Insurance Fund (SHIF). The results of its efforts have been published in articles in its magazine Message. The Bureau will continue following up any issues affecting retired officials.
Recruitment of new members has also been a priority, in particular among recently retired staff. The Section is informed on a regular basis about those that are about to retire, and a personal letter is sent to them together with the relevant documentation reflecting the interests and activities of the Section, plus the latest issue of Message.
Election of the Bureau
The term of the current Bureau expiring in December 2015, a new Bureau has been elected and will take office as from January 2016. The names of its members is published in this issue.
At its meeting on 30 September 2015 the Bureau unanimously decided to nominate Robert Falaize honorary member. Robert Falaize is a founding member of the Section, long time member of the Bureau and the first editor of its newsletter.
Each year, the Section participates in the pre-retirement seminar. It takes place in September and is organized for officials expecting to retire in the near future. Participants were informed of support and assistance which the Section could provide with problems they might encounter in their dealings with the ILO Administration, the Pension Fund, SHIF, and so on. This was coupled with a reminder that even before retirement, officials can join as supporting members, and thus get the benefit of the Section’s advice at the time of their departure. Great interest was shown and new members were recruited at this occasion.
Relations with the Staff Union Committee
The Section maintains close and fruitful cooperation with the Staff Union Committee, its Chairperson and Secretariat. Joint concerns are the Pension Fund and the Health Insurance Fund, but also any issue affecting the interest of retired staff.
Relations with AAFI-AFICS
The Section liaises with the Committee of AAFI-AFICS (Association of Former International Civil Servants in Geneva). The Executive Secretary is a member ex officio of the Committee and participates in its monthly meetings, where issues of mutual interest are discussed, such as maintaining the level of pensions and health coverage for retirees. Various associations of retired staff within the UN system are, like the ILO, represented on the AAFI-AFICS Committee, making it an important forum that in turn is in contact with the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS).
Information meeting 17 June 2015
The Bureau organized an information meeting at which more than 120 former colleagues participated. A detailed report of the meeting has been published in Message No. 58, 2016. The meeting was a great success, providing much useful information and at the same time an occasion for meeting old colleagues and renewing friendship. Another seminar is planned for the autumn 2016. The agenda will be published later.
The Editor and his team continue to devote considerable effort and time to ensuring that the Message to Former ILO Officials features informative and interesting articles which respond to members’ needs. Message appears twice a year and constitutes a much appreciated communications channel. Thanks are due to the Editor and all those who have contributed to its contents by either submitting articles, providing translations or helping out with proofreading. However the Editor-in-chief, I. Elsmark will be stepping down in June 2016 with the 59th issue of the Message. The Bureau strongly appeals for volunteers who would be ready to participate in the editorial and translation work.
In addition to information about the Section and its activities, all issues of Message can be found on Labordoc (see Message 57, 2015). The intention is in the course of 2016 to expand the range of information of interest to our members.
Areas of interest to former officials
1. ILO activities
The Bureau followed closely the programme of activities of the Office and the reforms being introduced by the Director-General, Guy Ryder. The successes and failures of the ILO are the successes and failures of those who have served the Organization what it has been and always should be. The Bureau has also followed the work of the Conference and the Governing Body, as well as the progress in the renovation project for the Headquarters building. Members are being kept informed through articles in the Message.
The Bureau is closely following the activities of the Pension Fund (UNJSPF). The recent problem of delays in payments of newly retired officials and pensions to widows/widowers has been of great concern. This is partly due to staff problems, and partly due to the introduction of a new IT system. The Bureau has taken a very serious view on this and maintains in close contact with the ILO administration and UN sister organizations to place pressure on the Fund to ensure an improvement of its services. A special thank is due to Guy Favre who for many years has followed these issues and published articles in Message.
3. Staff Health Insurance Fund
The Bureau has repeatedly been contacted by retired officials who have complained of the substantive delays which have been experienced with reimbursements of claims. This issue has been taken up with the Executive Secretary of SHIF and the Chairperson of the Management Committee. Unfortunately this problem has not been fully resolved, in spite of a working party set up by the Director-General with the participation of the Staff Union. Additional staff in SHIF has been engaged, and we have been assured that reasonable payment delays can be expected in the course of 2016.
Concern has also been expressed with the governance of the Health Insurance Fund. The Bureau has addressed letters on the subject to the Management Committee and several articles have been published in the Message Nos. 57 and 58. In December SHIF issued a notification to all participants of proposed amendments to the Regulations and Administrative Rules of the Fund. The Bureau has noted the proposed increase of the contributions, which it doubts is warranted in view of the current healthy position of the Guarantee Fund. It intends to study the actuarial position of the Fund more closely, based on latest revenue and expenditure figures, and advise members accordingly.
The Bureau has responded to numerous requests for information, in particular on questions of taxation in France. An article by Clément Roche on double taxation was published in Message No. 58, 2016.
5. ILO Reception for former officials
All former officials are greatly attached to the two annual receptions organized by HRD. They are not just a get-together, but a manifestation of loyalty to the ILO. The Director-General’s presence is much appreciated as at the May reception when he kindly took the time to go around and meet former colleagues. See also the article in Message No. 58, 2015. The Section has in its costaty fund which when needed balances the difference between what the ILO budget covers and the amount collected from the participants, and the actual expenditure of the reception.