Monday, February 27, 2017

Pension Fund alert:the stakes have never been higher, 27 February 2017

By far the most important elections for staff representatives to the UN Staff Pension Committee are upcoming – four members and two alternates (see link to CCISUA article).
Elected candidates will sit on the Pension Board and have voting rights on issues that represent our interests as participants (active staff) and beneficiaries (retirees).
Only active staff can nominate candidates or run for election, and only active staff are eligible to vote.
The stakes have never been higher. Current staff need to mobilize. 

Retirees must reach out to as many current staff as possible, help to raise awareness about the issues at stake and encourage participation as candidates or voters. Those who want to maintain the status quo are busily mobilizing to ensure that nothing shakes up the current level of self interest and related dysfunction.
Our Fund lost a total of $7.38 billion in investment income in 2014-2015 and $3.4 billion in foreign exchange (Board of Auditors report). Losses in investment income alone are estimated at $1 billion in 2016 when the Fund again failed to meet its performance benchmark of 3.5 per cent. This places the Fund’s long-term solvency at risk.
In addition there’s the issue of the unprecedented backlog in pension payments that has caused serious suffering to large numbers of retirees and survivors and has been the subject of disputed information about its causes and status.
A leaked OIOS audit of the backlog (December 2016) provides clarification on the issues and points to managerial deficiencies related to the causes and status of the backlog. CCISUA's article dated 9 December 2016 on its website notes: "The report shows that payment delays were caused by the poor implementation of the new IT system called IPAS, lax management, and a six month delay between problems emerging and action being taken." The finalized report is now available to Member States only and should be available publicly by mid-March 2017.
At the last Pension Board meeting in July in Vienna, Board members including our FAFICS representatives pushed for renewal of the CEO’s contract a year in advance. The Board also muzzled our staff federations and tried to intimidate a member of the media for reporting on the Fund’s problems.
FAFICS (the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants) has six seats on the Board, but without a vote. That means retirees have no direct vote on the Board. The FAFICS President wrote an email last June trying to discourage the OIOS audit of the backlog.
GA resolution A/RES/71/265 requested the SG to improve investment performance and mitigate foreign exchange losses, and the Pension Board to identify bottlenecks in the payment system (end to end review) and fill all vacant posts, many of which, including key posts, have been left vacant for long periods of time on both sides of the Fund.
There’s a third-party review of investments underway and reading between the lines of the FAFICS statement issued last week, it appears that the RSG may not be cooperating.
Despite the issues set out in the OIOS audit of the backlog, the CEO took a positive evaluation of IPAS implementation, by Price Waterhouse Coopers, to the Pension Board last July which helped with the push for his contract renewal a year in advance.
He's commissioned an end to end review by an external company (identity not confirmed) and reading between those lines he's hoping the results will again help his push for contract renewal for another five years.
The CEO is trying to terminate the contract of a Pension Fund Staff representative and reportedly has not cooperated in providing contact information of Fund participants for purposes of the election to be conducted.
The Pension Fund leadership has to change.
The Pension Board leadership and membership have to change.
The FAFICS leadership has to change.
One way to begin to push for the changes we need is to mobilize and ensure that candidates who have our interests at heart and will fight for the safety of our life savings and the health of our Fund are elected to the Pension Committee. Our staff federations have worked tirelessly for the cause and filled the vacuum left by our retiree representative organizations We must now mobilize our current staff colleagues and throw our support behind the staff federations as never before. Stay tuned for more information.