Sunday, February 28, 2016

"I feel your pain." UN Pension Board Chair letter to UN Staff Unions: CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV's call to "move out of your state of denial."

“I feel your pain.” Pension Board Chair response to CCISUA/FICSA/and UNISERV joint letter.

While UN retirees and survivors suffer through delays of a minimum of six months (and some for years according to the UN Staff Union President) to receive their pension benefits, the Fund CEO has ignored calls from the UN Staff Federations for additional staff and resources to address the large backlog caused by a lack of management to properly address  IT transitions and staff cuts in the Fund and across the board in the UN, related to UMOJA. 

Instead, notes the current petition to the UN Secretary-General calling for the Fund CEO to be replaced, his efforts are directed to lobbying against charges of mismanagement and for ‘flexibilities’ in a revised MOU that were to allow him to bypass UN rules for recruitment, promotion, retention, and mobility, carrying risks for the current system of checks and balances. Fortunately, USG for Management Takasu put Mr. Arvizu's hopes for a revised MOU on ice on 10 July 2015 and hopefully, there it will remain.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sign the Petition: UN Staff Unions to Secretary-General: Replace UN Pension Fund CEO Sergio Arvizu! February 26, 2016

"We call on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to:
  • terminate CEO Arvizu's contract,
  • push for an urgent meeting of the pension fund's board to resolve the crisis,
  • start the search for a new, competent CEO, and
  • pay interest on late pension payments.
As a staff member or retiree, your participation in this petition will make a difference. Ban Ki-moon has terminated senior staff for much less."


Broadcast from UN Staff Union President: Status Quo is Unbearable, Sign the Petition to Terminate the Contract of Mr. Arvizu! February 26, 2016

From:        Barbara Tavora-Jainchill/NY/UNO 
Date:        26/02/2016 03:46 PM 
Subject:        Pension Fund  - update and PETITION 

Dear colleagues, 

Exactly one week ago I shared with you a letter sent by the President of CCISUA, our Federation, whom, together with the Presidents of FICSA and UNISERV, brought to the attention of the Pension Board members and the Heads of the participating organizations, including the Secretary-General, the seriousness of the delays of the Pension Fund in paying benefits to recent retirees and survivors. Today the Chairman of the Pension Board responded to the letter in question (both attached) and we couldn't be more disappointed. Excuses after excuses after excuses which make no sense and in our view are not accurate. 

It seems that the Chairman never consulted the other members of the Board representing participants before he wrote this letter; had he done so, he would be informed of delays lasting years, not months; of desperate retirees and survivors who depleted their savings and are yet to receive one cent of what they are owed. The fundamental function of the Pension Fund's CEO is to pay pensions to retirees and survivors; the current CEO seems unable to perform the main duty of his job. 

UN Staff Unions Petition: Enough with mismanagement and denial! The UN Pension Fund needs a New CEO! February 26, 2016

It’s been clear for some time and even clearer now -- the UN Pension Fund needs a new CEO. Our UN Staff Unions (CCISUA and FICSA, and UNISERV is expected to get on board) have taken extraordinary action in the face of chronic mismanagement in the UN Pension Fund that threatens the health of our 67 year old Fund, by following up on their February 18, 2016 letter, and today addressing a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to replace the Fund CEO Sergio Arvizu (see link below and previous blog post).

The Petition cites clear evidence of CEO mismanagement:   the rush to switch off the former IT system without checking that the new IPAS system was up and running; ignoring repeated calls from Pension Fund staff and their Union representatives for more staff and resources, while he engaged in futile attempts to gain more autonomy for the Fund (blocked by Staff Union and retiree efforts); diverting needed energy for his management duties to lobby against calls by the UN staff unions for an OIOS investigation into allegations of mismanagement.

NEW PETITION: UN Staff Unions to Secretary-General: Replace UN Pension Fund CEO Sergio Arvizu!

Link to Petition:

"STAFF UNIONS PETITION: Staff retiring from UN organizations must now wait six months before receiving their first pension payment, putting thousands in financial penury. This follows the calamitous implementation of a new IT system at the UN joint staff pension fund. Its CEO, Sergio Arvizu has since last summer refused to acknowledge the severity of the problem nor propose adequate steps to deal with it. He also ignored advice that could have prevented the crisis in the first place. The fund urgently needs a new CEO.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pension Fund: Power politics, understaffing and request for Board meeting declined. February 21, 2016

UN Pension Blog has recently received word that the unfilled posts related to the almost $2 million under-expenditure in staff and technology by the Fund in the last biennium are at the P level on the Investment side of the Fund (apparently there are 20 unfilled posts at the end of the 2014-2015 biennium. It's unclear that all 20 remain unfilled as of now and whether they're all indeed on the Investment side. Anyone who can shed light, please do). On hedge funds, the Fund's report to the Fifth Committee, A/70/325, notes on page 67: "By the end of 2015, the Fund expects to be committed to 30 to 40 private equity and hedge fund managers. An additional Investment Officer for Alternative Investments was approved and is being added to the team. A request for proposal to hire a hedge fund non-discretionary adviser will be published later in 2015." Does any of this mean the Fund is moving toward more or fewer riskier investments such as hedge funds? Again, anyone who can shed light, please do).

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kudos to CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV for taking a stand! February 19, 2016

The Pension Fund saga continues. Just around this time in 2015, a group of concerned UN retirees initiated a petition to the UN Secretary-General, urging him not to accept a revised MOU pushed by the Fund CEO and to stop plans (reported in the media) by the Representative of the Secretary-General for Investments (RSG) for increased Fund investments in hedge funds, both of which posed potential risks to the health of the 65 year old Fund.
In total, 16,000 Fund participants and beneficiaries signed two petitions (13,000 signed the first petition, initiated in May 2014 by the UN Geneva Staff Union; and 3,000 signed the second, initiated by UN retirees in New York in May 2015) and in July 2015 the USG for Management, Yukio Takasu placed the revised MOU on hold.
In addition there were accusations of fraud against the Fund CEO accompanied by impassioned denials. Throughout the saga, the AFICS/FAFICS President has stalwartly protected the CEO’s rear guard, or ‘had his back’, as the saying goes, as well as dismissed retiree concerns about the MOU and possible riskier investments.
All the recent news has been about serious and protracted delays in processing pension payments for new retirees. Snippets of information have come from various sources. According to the Fund website, the problems are caused by delays in integrating technology and by inadequate documentation submitted by retirees or by their HR directors in the various agencies. The AFICS/FAFICS President strongly concurs, and says she’s doing everything to resolve the problem with the CEO.
Where do things stand now? Has the CEO given up on a new MOU? What is the status of staff/management relations in the Fund, and their impact on client servicing including the current serious processing delays? Why, as noted in the Fund’s last report to the Fifth Committee was there an under-expenditure in the 2014-2015 biennium of almost $2 million on staff and equipment and what impact has that had on the current inefficiencies in the Fund? Is what we're hearing correct --  that the unfilled posts are at the P level on the Investment side of the Fund, and that what are needed to address the backlog are support level posts, which have to be approved by the Pension Board?  What is the status with riskier investments? Does the fact that there are no further media reports mean those plans are on ice (along with the MOU)?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

UN Pension Fund Soup, February 18, 2016

An incompetent Fund CEO, a foot-dragging Pension Board Chair, irritated HR directors, a self-interested and obsequious AFICS leadership – time to unpack the Pension Fund soup.

As indicated by the letter from CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERVE posted below today, the management of the Fund has been working strenuously, although not to face the issues and take steps to improve efficiencies at the Fund, but to distance itself from accountability while placing the responsibility elsewhere -- on integrating new technology and on incomplete documentation submissions by UN system executive offices (see link to its latest self-serving message below on the Fund’s website).

The letter from CCISUA, FICSA, and UNISERVE, addressed to the Members of the Pension Board and to the Executive Heads of the UN Common System Organizations provides a much needed reality check, stating clearly that mismanagement of the Fund is at the root of its inefficiencies in client servicing, and urging, among other proposals:

Message to UN Pension Board from CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV: Step out of denial and take resolute action! February 18, 2016