Friday, July 7, 2017

Resist the illegal and self-serving push to exclude elected participant representatives from the UN Staff Pension Committee, 11 June 2017


The Legal Counsel gave an opinion 25 years ago (November 1992, posted below by CCISUA president, Ian Richards). It was overturned by the Joint Appeals Board. Consequently, it was never adopted into the rules and regulations of the Fund.
Suddenly this old and unimplemented legal opinion is brushed off and pushed forward by the CEO – the focus of the OIOS audit into managerial deficiencies -- and his cohorts for purely self-interested reasons. It should be clear to all why this is happening now.
The Fund is experiencing problems of chronic investment underperformance that puts its solvency at risk; and an unprecedented backlog in benefit payments owing to managerial deficiencies, of which a minimum of 10,000 cases, including thousands of widows and orphans, remain unresolved and unreported by the Fund (see details in the OIOS audit dated February 2017, 2017/02).
These problems are extremely serious and are detailed in a General Assembly resolution (71/265), a board of auditors report, an ACABQ report, and the OIOS audit. At last year’s Pension Board meeting, our staff federation representatives were muzzled by the Chair and members of the Board, while they pushed for early renewal of the CEO's five-year contract, and the media was severely criticized for writing about problems in the Fund.

If these problems are to be properly addressed and resolved, we need knowledgeable and independent Pension Board members. Many have shown themselves to be sadly wanting in this respect, which is part of the systemic and chronic problems being experienced by the Fund.
Among the six persons elected in February to the UN Staff Pension Committee are two Fund staff who have been key figures in uncovering the problems with the Fund. It should come as no surprise that their election is seen as a potential threat to the status quo.
Initially, the focus of the push to exclude the participant representatives included not only the two Fund staff, but all six elected participants. Four days after the launch of the CCISUA petition, the other four participants have been admitted to the Committee, a Standing Committee meeting was hastily convened, and a decision was made to continue to exclude the two Fund staff members.
This is plain and simple self-interested maneuvering by the Fund CEO and his cohorts. This is an extraordinarily important juncture for our Fund. Action can be taken, with the help of these duly elected participant representatives, to bring about resolution of these serious problems and needed change, or we can succumb to this unacceptable maneuvering, and watch as our Fund continues to swerve off course.
There is merit in the arguments of those who say that there are potential issues with having Fund staff sit on the Pension Board. Consider the scenario that would have unfolded had these been two staff members other than the ones elected, who have participant/beneficiary and Fund interests at heart. The next time we could be faced with CEO pawns as our elected representatives.
That being said, decisions need to be taken on the basis of fairness and legality. What the CEO and the Pension Fund Chair are trying to do in excluding these two staff members is, under current circumstances, unfair and illegal. It’s as simple as that, All six duly elected staff members must be allowed to take their place on the Pension Board. Then time can be taken to consider the matter and take measured and objective decisions in the interest of our Fund for the future. Ad hoc, self-interested and illegal decisions such as this one, are simply unacceptable and must not be allowed to stand. The petition to the CEO and the SG on this matter remains valid. Sign it if you haven't already done so! (LINK BELOW)

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