INFORMATION IS POWER: WHY MORE UN RETIREES NEED TO BE INFORMED ABOUT PENSION ISSUES AND WHY EACH OF US NEEDS TO DO OUR PART (including engaging our local retiree associations and reaching out to other retirees)
This post is in response to some of the comments on the discussion thread on my post of the summary of the recent UN Pension Briefing by UN Participant Representatives to the Pension Board, who represent active UN staff and also advocate for the interests of UN retirees. It's an important topic and one that's worth considering. Specifically, for the sake of the continued health of our Fund, we need the reforms in General Assembly resolution A/73/274 to be implemented. Pushback is intense from the Pension Board, which includes some key members of the UN Administration, the Fund Secretariat management, and FAFICS, the UN retiree representative body, on many of the major reforms contained in the resolution, including on direct election by retirees of our Pension Board representatives, and necessary adjustments to the composition of the Board.
Why do many UN retirees remain uninformed about issues concerning our Fund? OIOS governance audit A/73/341 states in para. 22 that "[FAFICS represents only 18,500 beneficiaries (approximately 25 per cent) of a total beneficiary population of 74,788 as at 31 December 2016". (Note that of the 74,788 beneficiary population, about 54,000 are retirees and some 20,000 are their dependents). The president of FAFICS, Marco Breschi, is on record as stating in this connection, "that In my mind [retiree non-members of FAFICS] are simply people who feel adequately protected by our action and don't feel the need to go the extra step to register with their local AFICS /FAFICS"!! (His response to Lowell Flanders dated 19 October 2019). It's certainly a peculiar perspective, and one that's emblematic of FAFICS' approach to the issue of political representation!
If we consider retirees only and not their dependents, the approx. one-third (18,500) of UN retirees world-wide who are members of FAFICS, are minimally, if at all, more informed than the almost two-thirds (approx. 36,000 plus) of retirees who are not FAFICS members. FAFICS has worked strenuously to keep vital information from its members, including from the leadership of its 60 plus associations around the world. With a very few exceptions (there are one or two) there’s no indication that the leadership of most of these associations are abreast of the issues, or that they’re making any effort to keep their members informed.