Last results from the UN General Assembly related to conditions of work and employment of the Staff

Staff Union Bulletin N°1499

Retirement age

The General Assembly has for the first time decided in principle that staff who joined before 2014 will
be able to choose to retire at 65. It has asked the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to
consult with the organizations and recommend an implementation date.

This is a major step forward as it recognizes 65 for the first time, after many years of postponement
and despite complete opposition by many of the organizations. A lot of preparatory work went into
this (see CCISUA brief and CCISUA speech to the General Assembly from 25:30). We will now work on
the issue of the implementation date.

Professional salaries

The General Assembly decided not to cut professional salaries. Instead it has left it to the ICSC to
manage the margin (the difference between US salaries and ours), so that it returns to a spread of 15
percent.

The US had wanted the average margin of the last five years to be 15 percent. However, because the
calendar margin has been above 15 percent for some years, this would have meant an immediate
8 percent pay cut and would have set a precedent where today’s compensation is set by the labour
market of five years ago. This CCISUA brief and CCISUA speech to the General Assembly from
25:30 explained these consequences.

UN Holidays

The General Assembly decided not to make Yom Kippur, Vesak, Diwali, Gurpurb, and Orthodox
Christmas UN holidays to the detriment of our local holidays. Instead, the Secretary-General is asked
to look at ways of not having major meetings on those days.
This is a successful result for our campaign, which included a joint letter to the General Assembly, a
Huffington Post piece (The UN General Assembly Is Stuck in Negotiations… Over When to Take Its
Holidays) and direct contact with certain delegations. Our local holidays are preserved, while the
concerns of delegates who do not want to miss out on their religious festivals because of major
meetings is taken into account.

Benefits for same-sex married partners

Earlier this year the Secretary-General revised an administrative bulletin, thereby providing benefits
such as medical insurance for same sex married partners of UN staff. Russia proposed a vote to
reverse that decision. The vote has now been postponed to April.
Our understanding is that the supporters of this vote no longer felt confident they had the numbers
to have the vote passed. This follows an intensive lobbying campaign in the days leading up to and
just after Christmas, by staff unions, UN-GLOBE (the UN LGBT association), certain countries and the
Secretary-General’s office, including a joint letter from the federations.