After long discussions on the paper GB.337/PFA/1/2, on the financial implications of the judgment of the ILOAT regarding the revised post adjustment index for Geneva, the Governing Body decided: “to request the Office to consult with the ILO Staff Union on any proposal having consequences on conditions of work or employment of staff through internal social dialogue, and in keeping with the Staff Regulations.”
The developments since that decision was adopted, however, seem to contradict that mandate.
Last Monday, the DG held a closed-door session with managers on the implementation of cost-cutting measures through reductions in, amongst others, travel and training costs. The Staff Union was neither invited nor informed officially. It also appears that the DG announced that there would be no freezing of posts, but we have since received contrary reports that some vacancies are on hold.
Later, we saw a rapid succession of IGDS on ethics and whistleblowing-related matters on which the Staff Union was not officially consulted in appropriate fora, and its request for due consultation process for some of these IGDS was completely ignored by publishing them rapidly.
All of these decisions have impacts on staff, but management decided not to consult the Staff Union in advance. There are appropriate joint statutory bodies where the parties should discuss these issues, and ignoring them is not a sign of good faith. Consultations avoid future conflicts, minimize the impact on staff and help identify gaps. For example, the Staff Union could easily identify measures that would reduce costs, such as reducing end-of-biennium retreats in expensive venues.
The lack of consultation has been happening all too frequently: the Administration makes a decision and unilaterally decides not to consult the Staff Union because, according to them, it has no impact on the staff. An effective right to bargain includes the right to request bargaining: it is hard to believe that those who lead the primary institution advocating for social dialogue in the world would not recognize something so evident.
It is time that internal social dialogue take its place at the centre of the decent work agenda within this House of Labour, and particularly in the year of its Centenary. Please be assured that your Union is ready to take a stand for this principle and will use all the means at its disposal to make it effective.