Results of the survey on misconduct in the workplace | Résultats de l’enquête sur la conduite prohibée

The Coordinating Committee for Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), of which your union is a member, recently undertook a staff survey on harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse of authority (this survey was distinct from the management survey on sexual harassment only).

We are grateful to the respondents for their time and efforts, which will help us fulfill the primary purpose of the survey: to achieve a better understanding of your experiences and concerns, particularly at a time when the relevant policies are under review. On that note, the results will be shared with senior management globally, including the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and equivalents, as well as relevant review bodies, working groups and the Secretary-General.

While we are pleased to report that over 6600 of you from across the UN System took the survey – with roughly 60% of female respondents – the preliminary findings of the survey are quite shocking. Nearly half of respondents (44%) believe they were subjected to abuse of authority, 40% were the victim of discrimination and 37% experienced harassment at the UN. Over 15% of staff reported suffering sexual harassment in the workplace.

The survey responses also point to a number of alarming patterns:

·         Misconduct is most frequently perpetrated by supervisors (46% in cases of sexual harassment, and over 70% in cases of discrimination, harassment or abuse of authority).

·         Less than one fifth of victims of misconduct chose to file a complaint; the two predominant reasons cited by staff were their lack of trust in the system and fear of retaliation.

·         Amongst staff who did file a complaint, 20% believe they were retaliated against for having done so.

·         Nearly half of investigations took more than one year to complete; staff felt the investigations were conducted in a professional manner in only one third of cases, and were fully satisfied with the outcome in only 10% of cases.

These troubling results point to a veritable crisis in the UN System's management of misconduct in the workplace. The responses to the survey suggest that staff do not feel treated with respect and dignity, and reveal a serious lack of trust in the system.

This survey serves as an important and credible reality check for the Organization on the experiences of staff across the UN System. We will be using your feedback to better inform our discussions with management on proposed changes to the relevant legislation, in order to better protect, you, the staff – the Organizations most valuable asset.

We will provide further detailed survey results in the coming days.


Update on the new building and outcome of the hot-desking pilot project | Informations mises à jour sur le Plan stratégique patrimonial et conclusions du projet pilote sur le « hot-desking »

You will have seen that the new building H is slowly coming together and the underground car park will soon have a new entrance.

The General Assembly has decreed that all staff in the new building, to be completed in 2020, be subject to hot-desking (variously referred to by the Administration as flexible workspace or smart working)in which there will be 4 desks for every 5 staff. Affected staff include OHCHR, OCHA and the Division of Administration, but, based on concerns received, not UNCTAD, ECE nor the Language Service.

However, we have come to learn that in the Report of the Secretary General to the General Assemblyin its current session, the UN Administration through the SG’s report requested CHF 67 million in additional funds to introduce ventilation in the older buildings of the Palais to allow for the introduction of hot-desking. This request was not consulted with the Staff Council. We will keep you informed of the outcome of this request once the General Assembly makes its final decision.

In preparation for this change in the workspace, a change that has not proven popular in New York and on which the Administration admitted at the last meeting of the Staff-Management Committee (SMC) they were unable to measure a resulting increase in productivity, the Council was invited to try out the pilot hot-desking environment in the Dépendance La Pelouse. We would like to thank the SHP team for inviting us to this space, and the friendliness of all staff working there. Nevertheless, having tried this hot-desking, our conclusions are not encouraging. The main points are as following: 

·         Hot-desking can be a challenge for activities requiring confidentiality. It may be difficult, if not many times impossible, to foresee confidential activities and book a conference room in advance each time. Unexpected confidential phone calls will not be possible without urging the caller to wait while confidential space is found or having to ask to reschedule the call.

·         It is no wonder that colleagues who arrive first in the morning prefer to take places to the back where no one will walk behind them – as to retain a natural level of privacy. Those that arrive later are only left with a choice of desk with the hallway behind them where people walk and have less privacy. Staff are therefore obliged to “compete” for more privileged / less annoying seats.

·         The fact that there are no fixed places makes it difficult to find a particular colleague, therefore losing time when needing to interact directly. This may be particularly troubling for colleagues who interact daily with different colleagues/clients.

·         In general, the noise level is significantly higher than in individual offices as one can hear everything taking place in the open space.

·         As for spontaneous discussions with colleagues, our experience is that in theory they should be moved to other spaces but in practice they take place in the hot-desking environment, disturbing others. This is particularly true to cases when work on the screen in front of somebody has to be debated.

·         Speaking on the fixed phone is often annoying for colleagues sitting nearby and who will unwantedly hear the other person’s conversation, however short one tries to be and however low voice is used. Negative implications for concentration will be inevitable, as well as reticence to discuss issues in detail in order to respect colleagues nearby.

·         For storage space, lockers of any size may not be sufficient to hold all the professional and personal equipment typically found on a desk.

This Economist article on the subject is also worth reading: Open offices can lead to closed minds.

At this stage we would like to remind you that the Council was officially invited to certain SHP planning meetings as of April 2015. The Council conducted a surveyin June 2015 in which many of you expressed your strong concerns with regards to hot-desking and open-plan offices. These were reinforced by a scientific studyundertaken by Swiss company, Ergorama, and a petition signed by over 1,000 of you against open space and hot-desking. The Council itself voted on October 2017 a resolutionof no-confidence in the project as it then was.

While we understand that SHP is bound by General Assembly resolutions we also understand that the GA’s resolutions were also based on the proposals submitted by our Management. We therefore regret that despite best efforts the concerns of staff were for the most part ignored, including many concerns expressed during the focus group meetings organized by the SHP team.

Nevertheless, the Council will need to remain engaged with UNOG leadership and the SHP team in order to make the current project as good as possible.


Christmas concert this Monday 17 December | Concert de Noël, lundi 17 décembre

You are cordially invited to a free Christmas concert this Monday 17 December at 5.30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations. 

Please drop by to hear a choir perform a one-hour program of festive songs (see flyer below). 

We hope this performance - initiated by staff, for staff - will give a jubilant start to your holiday season!


Lunch time Christmas concert on Tuesday 11 December | Concert de Noël à midi ce mardi 11 décembre

The Choir of the United Nations Music Club, together with an invited chamber music group, have the pleasure to invite you to a lunch time Christmas concert, to be held this Tuesday 11 December 2018, at 12.30 p.m. in the Salle des pas perdus.

Everyone is most welcome to attend the concert and sing the Christmas Carols along with the choir!


Extension of the courtesy period for staff on temporary contracts | Extension de la période de courtoisie pour les détenteurs de contrats temporaires

Dear colleagues on temporary contracts, 

During our meeting held on 18 October, several of you raised various concerns, some notably related to the courtesy period legitimation card usually awarded for 2-months by the Swiss authorities at the end of a contract, which forces some of you to leave Switzerland by the end of said period. 

We raised this issue with the UNOG Human Resources Management Service (HRMS) who clarified that the requests for the extensions of the standard courtesy periods are treated on a case-by-case basis. 

In order to have a unified approach and avoid confusion, the following is recommended: 

Once the end of your temporary contract is approaching (at least two weeks before your contract expiration), contact the UNOG Legitimation Card Unit. The request for an extension of the courtesy period should be submitted by letter addressed to the chief of HRMS and explaining your personal circumstances (children schooling, medical problems, etc.). Kindly note that the Swiss authorities do not normally accept to extend a courtesy period in order to search for a new job.

This request will be forwarded to the Swiss Mission, who will decide on your case. 

We understand that a more optimal scenario would have been to align the courtesy period with the break-in-service period. However, this would require a change in the laws of the host country which is not planned, at least for the moment.


Update on SAFI and actions by the Council | Informations mises à jour sur le SAFI et actions du Conseil

We would like to update you on developments concerning the financial situation at SAFI and its impact on Staff Council activities. For memory, SAFI has since its foundation been a Swiss-registered commercial operation that pays taxes. It benefits staff in a number of ways: by providing a convenient onsite store; by providing discounted products; and by funding a number of Staff Council activities.

Firstly, the Swiss tax authorities have determined that the funds SAFI provides the Staff Council should be treated as distribution of profit after tax rather than deductible expenses (which they were up to now) before tax. This determination was upheld recently by the tax tribunal despite the SAFI Board appeal, although other determinations were fortunately overturned. However, this unfortunately reduces any annual contribution to the Council by 25 percent. And since this has been backdated to 2014, the result is that three years’ worth of taxes were removed from SAFI’s 2016 contribution to the Council.

Secondly, a number of factors reduced sales by 10 percent between 2016 and 2017. These include a stricter parking policy limiting access by retirees and staff in other organizations, increased requirements by certain manufacturers for the display of their goods, the growth of internet shopping and a continued strong franc. In light of this and of the outcome of the recent legal appeal, this means that income to the Council for the last year is now significantly less than forecast, standing at CHF 98,000.

Thirdly, while SAFI has been allocated an attractive and central location in the Palais for after the completion of the renovations, it would need, to minimize disruption, to move to a temporary facility during the renovations. This will in itself have an impact on costs and be disruptive commercially.

In order to address these developments, the Board is working with SAFI on business planning to integrate these developments, identify strategies to ensure the business remains viable and review income and expenditures. At the same time the Staff Coordinating Council will be reviewing its budget (November 2018 to October 2019) next week to determine how best to integrate these developments and revise spending for items that have yet to be obligated. This will unfortunately affect funding for the time-being for clubs, humanitarian action and staff and children’s parties. (With regards to the upcoming staff party, certain costs had already been contracted before the final results for SAFI were known; nevertheless efforts have been made to find savings where possible.)

At the same time the Council needs to ensure its financial sustainability to ensure it can maintain its strong representation activities. We therefore encourage you to consider becoming dues-paying members, both for the purpose of solidarity and for the benefits that this brings. We will also examine options to ensure a return on financial assets.


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  3. Staff party on 7 December 2018 | Fête du personnel le vendredi 7 décembre 2018
  4. Campaign to remove barriers to GS career development | Campagne pour l’élimination des barrières pour le passage de la catégorie G à P
  5. Survey on misconduct at the workspace | Sondage sur la conduite prohibée sur le lieu de travail
  6. Share your experiences in the workplace - spread the word through UN Special | UN Special: un moyen de partager votre expérience sur le lieu de travail
  7. UN beach open until Sunday 21 October | La plage de l'ONU est ouverte jusqu'au dimanche 21 octobre
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  14. Percussion classes at the Palais 2018 | Stage de percussions au Palais 2018
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  17. Friday night is party night at UN Beach | Les vendredis soirs sont des moments de fête à la plage de l’ONU
  18. Salsa classes at the Palais 2018-2019 | Cours de Salsa au Palais 2018-2019
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  21. Update on pay cut and ICSC reform | Informations mises à jour sur les coupures salariales et la réforme de la CFPI
  22. UN Theatre Club - 2018-2019 registrations | Club de Théâtre de l'ONU - Inscriptions pour 2018-2019
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  25. Tennis camp for children during the summer holidays 2018 | Stages de tennis pendant les vacances d’été 2018
  26. Lunch time concert: the great classics | Concert de midi : les grands classiques
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  44. Our work programme 2018 | Notre programme de travail 2018
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