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.

In the meantime, as the backlog pile creeps toward the ceiling in the Fund and the suffering among UN retirees and survivors increases, the joint letter of 18 February 2016 from CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV addressed to the UN Secretary-General and other Executive Heads of the UN Common System Organizations, and to the Pension Board Chair, calling for the Fund and Board leadership to to “step out of [their] state of denial” and take “resolute action” to address the dire situation, met with a stonewalling response from the Board Chair, Mr. Olusoji Adeniyi, dated 26 February 2016 (both letters are posted on the UN Pension Blog and on this FB page):

“Hello. Thank you for your letter. I value your input. I bet you didn't know that I’m both the “current Chairman of the Pension Board, as well as representative of the Participants’ Group”. That’s you! So I’m your representative two times over. And all of this is very personal to me. I’m the Chair, but I’m a Participant too. I represent my interests as well as yours. So believe me, I’m pulling out all the stops for ME, and YOU. I know what you want, because it’s what I want. And we already have everything we want. But you don't seem to know it. So since you  ask (sigh), let’s go over it together. Now, listen up.  I don't want to have to tell you again. 

Of course there are “unfortunate hardships” for retirees and survivors waiting for months (years, too, Mr. Chairman!) for their pension payments. What can you, or they, expect? We’ve had “teething issues” caused by UMOJA messing up our IPAS. We have way more participants and beneficaries and no additional resources. Yet, look at us: we’re “up to speed” and “exceeding previous processing rates.” We’re doing “intensified” training, we have a “temporary task force” working on the backlog, we’re recruiting new staff and (you’re going to love this!) we’re working on a self-service IPAS feature. (Wonderful: For pension payment, “press 1”; please pass your UN ID  card under the scanner.  Please enter your pin. Please enter your entire UN employment history. Sorry, your time has expired. Please try again. Please wait while we process your request. Please take your check. Sorry no check today. Come back in June -- or maybe July, or next year.  Please take a tissue. Please dry your eyes. Please withdraw your UN ID card. Please place your UN ID card in the bag. Please take the bag. Thank you. Goodbye.”)

Oh, you know, of course, that the real cause of the backlog is “structural”.  Why do you look surprised? Yes, “structural” delays caused by missions and organizations’ late submissions of separation documentation and payment instructions.  See, it's not the Fund's or the Board's fault!

And sorry, I feel your pain, and I feel their pain, but pay advances to those who are experiencing delays in their pension payments? Would love to do it. But that would be “counterproductive”; needs time to develop and test a new system, not to mention we’d have to “study the legal aspects involved.” That could take years!

An extraordinary meeting of the Board you say? Counterproductive again. What do we need a meeting for? Are you listening? We’re already doing everything you want, which is everything I want. Remember I'm you, you're me. And I told you (open up your ears):  advance payment won’t “produce results we all want.” And anyway, the backlog will be over by June, just in time for the July Board meeting. We’ll all be celebrating by then.   

You know, I really value you staff union guys. Just like I value the “constructive suggestions” coming from FAFICS. Now those people at FAFICS really know “constructive”.  Take a page out of their book and get constructive too.  Tell the HR offices to get their act together. They’re the real problem anyway. And tell staff approaching retirement to do their homework and improve their “knowledge gap” about separation. That’s your real job. Now, please take your card. Please place your card in the bag. Thank you. Goodbye.”

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