We spoke up for you at the pension fund townhall - here is what happened next

Last Friday, the pension fund chairman and CEO came to UNOG to reassure staff that all is well. It involved a verbose presentation of 40 minutes before questions were allowed.

The Council then made a strong statement (http://staffcoordinatingcouncil.org/attachments/article/403/Speech%20at%20UNJSPF%20townhall.pdf) on behalf of staff describing the pain of those retirees who have had to wait to be paid, the lack of clarity on the true size of the backlog of payments, the silence and opaqueness surrounding Fund operations, and the risks to the pension fund arising from the new financial rules. 

The fund chairman interrupted your staff representative partway through and admonished her for making a “political” speech, to which she asked to continue noting the right to freedom of speech on behalf of all of the staff. This was met with applause from staff. 

In addition, staff representatives asked why: 

  • In May 2016 the Fund stated that the backlog had been eliminated, yet during the meeting the Fund stated that there were 600 actionable cases. Every message on the size of the backlog has seemed contradictory. Where is the trust?
  • When would the OIOS audit report on the backlog, reportedly currently in the hands of the Fund, be published?
  • When the new IPAS IT system was implemented, why there wasn’t a back-up plan to ensure newly retiring staff would be paid? Pension fund staff told that council that management ignored warnings on this. Given the CEO’s performance, why was the board recommending renewal of his contract?
  • What was the board hiding from staff, given that it had asked board members to sign a confidentiality agreement, including on new financial rules and the pension fund budget?


Other staff members took to floor reiterating the right of staff representatives to speak on behalf of UNOG staff, noting the move toward risky financial investments and their concerns with the fund’s irresponsible investments in arms and tobacco.

These questions were neither directly nor clearly addressed by the CEO and Chair. Following more defensive and circuitous replies from the fund’s managers, many staff left Room XX perplexed, insulted, concerned and no clearer about developments at the Fund. 

The events at the townhall came the same week that the General Assembly, having listened to our concerns and examined the evidence, admonished the fund’s management for its poor leadership and performance. Their statements are below:

G-77 and Chinahttp://www.un.org/en/ga/fifth/71/Statements/142.%20UN%20Pension%20System/C5_71_0m_ST_2016_11_28_Item142_UN%20Pension%20Sys_Thailand%20(G77%20and%20China).pdf

European Unionhttp://www.un.org/en/ga/fifth/71/Statements/142.%20UN%20Pension%20System/C5_71_0m_ST_2016_11_28_Item142_UN%20Pension%20Sys_European%20Union.pdf

United Stateshttp://www.un.org/en/ga/fifth/71/Statements/142.%20UN%20Pension%20System/C5_71_0m_ST_2016_11_28_Item142_UN%20Pension%20Sys_United%20States.pdf

In addition, the Board of Auditors concluded to the General Assembly that:

"the UNJSPF has not taken any proactive steps to mitigate its foreign exchange losses, which amounted to $1.49 billion during the current year ($1.96 billion in 2014). The mechanism of decision making in the investment management division needs to be strengthened by filling up the vacancies in decision making positions, and taking steps to improve performance and reduce losses. There is scope for improvement in the benefit processing and client services particularly in redressing the complaints of the beneficiaries. The Fund should take proactive steps in collaboration with member organisations to expedite the receipt of documents required for calculating and awarding pension benefits."
 http://www.un.org/en/ga/fifth/71/Statements/142.%20UN%20Pension%20System/C5_71_0m_ST_2016_11_28_Item142_UN%20Pension%20Sys_Chair%20BOA%20AOC.pdf

The Council, and our federation, CCISUA, will continue to expose the problems at the fund and meet with member states to find a solution to the fund’s problems. All staff should be able to retire knowing they will be paid promptly and that the funds are there to do so.