Africa 2015

Titular member: Roger Mavinga Nkambu
Substitute member: José Tossa

Main activities:

1. Mission to Dakar. At the request of the outgoing Staff Union team, the titular and substitute members went on a mission to Dakar in December 2014 for the election of the new team and to discuss various issues, such as office premises.

2. Field structure review. With technical support from the Staff Union Committee, the titular member assisted in the consultation organized in the region concerning the various proposals of the field structure review in Africa.

3. Return of the Regional Office to Abidjan. The Director-General’s decision to relocate the Regional Office was at once a cause for rejoicing and a source of concern about its possible consequences. So far, the Staff Union Committee has secured the unconditional return of all staff who were formerly based in Abidjan and before being relocated to certain offices in Africa as a result of the 2005 crisis.

4. Staff Union Assistance Fund (SUAF). At the request of the Staff Union Committee, the Fund made loans and/or gifts to several staff members in precarious circumstances (end of contract, insolvency, sickness, disaster, etc.).

5. Regional consultations. After a period of relative inactivity, meetings between the Regional Director and the staff representatives of country offices and technical support teams in Africa have started up again. They provide a useful opportunity for the two parties to discuss issues between themselves and to clarify any possible misunderstandings.

6. Reclassification. After putting up a fight, some of our colleagues have now been reclassified.

7. Assistance, support and advisory services. The Staff Union provides advice and guidance to any members of the staff who consulted it and does everything it can to maintain good labour relations in the regions and cordial relations among the staff.

Future challenges:

1. Impact on conditions of employment of the relocation of the Regional Office to Addis Ababa. The Office’s relocation has given rise to some concern among the staff, who fear that certain posts will be done away with. The Staff Union is involved in fierce negotiations to ensure that no post is suppressed.

2. The field structure review and its effect on staffing. Restructuring has sometimes taken place without necessarily producing the expected outcome. As a result, staffing is not always adapted to the workload generated by the changes.

3. The regrading of posts has still not been clarified. This is an ongoing problem. So far there has apparently been no significant progress, despite the fact that the imminent global regrading exercise shows every sign of being little more than a gimmick to make the administration look good. Moreover, the highest grade at the ILO is usually NOB and, very occasionally, NOC. Inasmuch as the ILO is part of the United Nations system, it has to assume its role fully along with its implications.

4. Safety and security of field staff in the face of new forms of terrorism and epidemics. United Nations staff everywhere continue to be a target of terrorist attacks, and the plethora of terrorist movements in Africa is a source of real concern for the future and technical cooperation and the safety of UN personnel. The number of countries emerging from recent conflicts where conditions of safety are precarious, the resurgence of urban gangs, pick-pocketing, bag snatching and armed robbery, etc. are as many reasons why the ILO, both as a member of the common system and on its own initiative, must in the name of equal treatment and social justice take appropriate steps to protect its local staff, by the same token as it protects their international colleagues. Anything else would be tantamount to failing to assist a person in danger.

5. Working conditions and occupational safety and health. The resurgence of epidemics and new forms of disease calls for greater vigilance at the workplace and the adoption of occupational health measures. It is unacceptable that visitors should use the same sanitary facilities as members of the staff. The extra workload generated by successive reforms without the corresponding adjustment of the quality and quantity of human, financial and logistical resources poses a threat to staff health and undermines the Organization’s image.

6. Reimbursement of medical claims (excessive delays). There has been some progress, but the SHIF staff is so small that that it has little hope of making significant inroads on the backlog of claims for reimbursement.

7. Career development and training. There should be more genuine career advancement if we are to benefit as we should from the accumulated experience of the past 100 years. The ILO is not an NGO and it is not just any United Nations agency either. The right person has to be in the right place, and there should be an ongoing training programme to ensure that the staff are really up to meeting their new responsibilities.

8. Retirement age at the ILO. The ILO’s position needs to be brought into line with that of the United Nations system.

9. Access of local staff in certain countries to loans from the UNFCU. The Staff Union Committee must actively advocate improving the social conditions of local staff by facilitating their access to such loans.