Europe and Arab States 2015

Titular member: Rania Bikhazi
Substitute member: Christiane Wiskow

The activities in the Region of Europe and the Arab States are diverse and based on each region’s specificity. They can be grouped along four main achievements:
1. Increasing membership base and strengthening representation
2. Building capacity of staff members serving as committee members or representatives of the Staff Union
3. Ensuring the Staff Union is involved in all office related decisions affecting staff especially in light of the field reform and restructure.
4. Challenges ahead and priorities for action

1. Increasing membership base and strengthening representation
An important achievement in March 2015 was the successful election of a new Staff Union Committee in the Regional Office for the Arab States including two regular budget members and one TC staff to ensure better representation of office staff.
From June 2014 till June 2015, the SUC in Beirut worked on increasing the number of Staff Union members (P, NO & G) and extended its efforts to technical cooperation projects in the field. A total of 8 staff became new members and are divided as follows: 2 P (TC), 4 NO (TC) and 2 G (1 RB and 1 TC).
There has been no change in the number of SU members in the ILO Western European Offices, namely Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome. In the Brussels Office, one staff union member was lost after leaving the organization.
2. Building capacity of staff members serving as committee members or representatives of the Staff Union
Given the importance of the Local Salary Survey, the Staff Union Committee sponsored the training of one staff union member in the new survey methodology workshop that was held in Vienna (25-27 June 2014) to have this staff act as a member in the Local Salary Survey Committee along with the Office Local Payroll representative (financially covered by office funds). The aim is to ensure a more effective representation of the staff in the Salary Survey Committee led by ESCWA.
In Brussels, the Staff Union representative for Western Europe is a member of the Local Salary Survey committee which comprises 26 UN agencies. Since 2011, there have been only interim salary surveys and the last salary increase was on 1 June 2014 for G and NO staff.

3. Ensuring the Staff Union is involved in all office related decisions affecting staff especially in light of the field reform and restructure.
The Staff Union Committee in the RO for Arab States reports on four main achievements:
• In line with the proposals made under the field reform and restructure of offices, SUC Beirut was consulted by management on opening two vacancies in the Regional Office for Arab States, for the biennium 2016-17, namely Statistician and OSH/Labour Inspection Specialists. The grades to be applied were also shared with the Committee.
• The Staff Union was also consulted on assigning a coordinator from the Beirut DWT in the Jordan office – direct selection or internal announcement – to act as ILO representative and participate in all UNCT meetings. The Committee advised Management to avoid direct selection and requested that an internal announcement be made for those interested.
• The Staff Union participation in the Staff Development Committee to ensure a more just and transparent process of applications, especially as it relates to the eligibility of TC staff, has so far been a success and remains a best practice.
• In accordance with the latest IGDS issued on the establishment of Committees on Occupational Safety and Health in Regional Offices, the Staff Union in Beirut has succeeded in assigning two staff union members to take part in a recently established OSH Committee made up of one management representative and the OSH technical specialist once appointed.
In the Budapest Office, the SU has initiated dialogue with management on the filling of two Programme Assistant positions whose financing is pending following the retirement/promotion of their respective incumbents. No final decision has been reached yet, the dialogue is on-going but filling both positions is an absolute priority, otherwise the functioning of the Budapest office is jeopardized. Another issue under discussion is the grading of two positions, where management proposed a downgrading following the retirement/replacement of the respective incumbents; the SU does not see the downgrading justified and is still in negotiations.
At ILO-Brussels, a Communication and Public Information Assistant position needed to be filled. The vacancy was published and the selection procedure was transparent. An additional P post will be opened at the ILO Brussels office in 2016 due to the retirement of 2 G staff members in Paris and Berlin. All staff of ILO-Brussels are members of the OSH Committee and the SU representative is the focal point.

4. Challenges ahead and priorities for action
• Security and safety of staff members remain a priority for the Staff Union representatives in the Arab States and Europe that strives to ensure that all staff members, regardless of contract types, years of services and grades, are provided with all security requirements/equipment and training. Needless to say that in addition to physical security, job security and continuity remains a priority for the union to work on in case of closure/merger of offices, evacuation or any other consequence of the field reform and restructure.
Employment related issues which remain of concern to the Staff Union are:
 Equality of opportunities and treatment of staff regardless of status: As an example, “the Madrid Office Model” needs to be revisited as there should be a more equal treatment between national civil servants, detached by the Governments and who have been working permanently for the ILO, and the ILO staff (HQ or field). Specifically equal treatment should be applied in the following cases:
 Screening and evaluation stages in competitions for such colleagues that have at least five years of continuous service with the ILO. They should be given the chance to apply as internal candidates.
 Promote and enable temporary mobility of people working at these offices, regardless of their contractual status (detached national civil servants, TC or RB).
 Titularization: Due to some old field structure, ILO staff in Western Europe branch offices are not eligible to WLT contracts. The justification being that the establishment of these offices should have been of temporary nature. This is not the case anymore and after so many years it seems only fair that staff members of these offices have access to titularization.
 Recruitment, selection and mobility: A transparent and fair process as well as equal opportunities are needed in both HQ and the field.
 Reclassification and grading. This is a concern in the Arab States due to the urgent need to revise job descriptions against duties performed by staff members leading to various requests of reclassifications. The same applies to ILO Western European offices, namely Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid and Rome where people in charge of finance and administration are stuck in their G grades and unable to move to the NO level while performing higher level responsibilities and having the required educational background, language skills, and years of experience. It is important to note that staff members performing similar duties in Moscow and Ankara already benefit from the NO grade.
• The complaints from staff and the long-standing problems on the functioning of the SHIF continue to be of importance to the Staff Union especially those related to long delays in reimbursement and responsiveness.