Thank you for taking part in the strike - Recap and next steps | Merci d'avoir pris part à la grève - Résumé et prochaines étapes

Thank you for taking part in Friday’s strike. It certainly had an important effect and was widely reported:

  ·     Agence France Presse (and carried by many media): UN Geneva staff agree to full-day strike over pay cuts 

·     Associated Press (and carried by many media): UN staff in Geneva to strike over pay, austerity measures 
·     Reuters (and carried by many media): U.N. staff in Geneva set to strike in protest at pay cut 
·     Tribune de Geneve: Un mouvement de grève inédit a paralysé l’ONU 
·     ATS (and carried by many media): Un appel à la grève pourrait perturber le travail de l'ONU mardi à Genève 
·     SRF: Genfer UNO-Personal im Streik 
·     Swissinfo: UN Geneva staff step up strike action over pay cut 

·     Lémanbleu: ONU, les fonctionnaires en grève (2:20) 

 We also received support from: 

  ·     International Trade Union Confederation 

·     Public Services International 
·     Communauté genevoise d’action syndicale 
·     ILO Staff Union 

·     UN retirees association (AFICS)

At the same time, and following questions raised by the Director-General’s email last week, the Secretary-General’s deputy spokesman confirmed at Friday’s noon press briefing ( that, “we believe that the right to strike is part of customary international law.”
Friday’s strike has also gathered momentum in other organizations and duty stations. The ILO, WHO, all UN agencies in Bangkok, and possibly others will also decide this week on whether to strike in what would be the first joint global strike the UN common system; UNEP staff in Geneva have just voted to join the strike. Based on our discussions at the townhall last week, we would organize our second day of strike concurrently with them. The final decision on the first global strike, depends on whether the International Civil Service Commission, meeting this week in New York, adequately addresses staff concerns. These include suspending negative results of cost-of-living surveys and local salary scales given the questions that have arisen about calculation errors, lack of transparency and distortion of methodology and ensuring staff have a say in their working conditions.
In this regard, the New York staff union inaugurated yesterday's ICSC meeting with a protest :
Our collective action, in Geneva, across agencies, and other duty stations, sets a clear message to member states and our management on what we expect this week from the ICSC. We will keep you closely informed on preparations for what may be a necessary and important second day of strike (or first global strike) later this week.
In solidarity.


The strike is on for tomorrow 16 March 2018 - please stay at home | La grève aura lieu demain 16 mars 2018 - restez chez vous

(français en bas de page)

Thank you for voting today. We know some of you queued for up to 20 minutes to exercise your right. The results communicated to us by the polling officers are as follows:

Yes: 1,040 (89.4%)

No: 120

Invalid and blank votes: 3

With the requirement of a simple majority, the Council now has the legal basis to call a strike. 

The first day of strike is tomorrow (Friday 16 March 2018).

Work resumes on Monday and we will communicate next steps.

Please therefore stay at home. 

You do not need to inform your supervisor nor be concerned with how services will be maintained. Missions will be informed that meetings, security and other services will not be running as planned, and they will now be able to see the direct impact of their decisions concerning our pay and conditions. We understand that some important meetings have already been moved to Monday as a result.

The results of the vote are largely positive and show your courage in saying a big NO to efforts by the ICSC and our employer to weaken our conditions of service, in an arbitrary manner. You also said NO to intimidatory emails from management.

Please share the news with your colleagues.

You may also wish to insert the following out-of-office message in your email:

Due to ongoing industrial action at the United Nations in Geneva I will not be able to reply to your message today. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for your support today and let’s all move forward in solidarity. 

Please find below once again for information, our FAQ on the strike as well as messages of solidarity from the ILO staff union and the association of retirees. Public Services International, which represents public sector workers around the world has also sent this letter to Secretary-General Guterres.


Why the strike is important + information session on Wednesday at 1.15 p.m. | Pourquoi la grève est-elle importante et session d’information le mercredi à 13h15

On Wednesday we are organizing an information meeting to explain the strike. It will take place at 1.15 p.m. in Room XIX.

At the meeting we will present the situation below and answer your questions.

If you vote on Thursday for a strike, which we encourage you to do, the first strike will be this Friday.

Why are you being asked to vote on a strike?

The Staff Council's regulations require a UNOG-wide vote in the case that the Council believes that a strike should be held.

The regulations also state that a strike is a tool of last resort when all other means of reaching agreement have been exhausted. We believe that we are now at that stage. 

The ICSC has so far refused to acknowledge its errors. Further, a meeting last week of its Advisory Committee on Post Adjustment Questions (ACPAQ) acknowledged problems with the way P salaries have been calculated in Geneva and elsewhere, proposed studying improvements for the future but refused to correct the current cut.

In a separate meeting between staff representatives and Secretary-General Guterres, he agreed to study options for improving the ICSC’s way of working but did not agree to reverse the ongoing cuts.

The ICSC meets again next week. Without a strong message from staff it is unlikely to change its mind. For this reason staff in Bangkok as well as at the ILO in Geneva are also discussing strike action.

Can the organization take any measures against you for striking?

As the strike is legal, the Council's senior external legal adviser has confirmed that staff who strike cannot be retaliated against.

This doesn’t exclude the possibility that salary could be retained pro rata. However, from our perspective it is not clear how it would be done. Would supervisors be able to monitor presence if they themselves are on strike? Can retention of salary be justified if the staff member has to anyway catch up at a later date on the work they didn’t carry out during the strike? Can the UN require presence at the office while promoting flexible and smart working? Can functions whose presence is more easy to measure be singled out versus other functions?

This could explain why pay was not retained during the previous strike at UNOG of 1977. However, should a day of pay be retained, this will still be less than the eventual pay cut for P staff and the risk of cuts for G staff.

What is the background to the strike and how does it concern G and P staff?

The International Civil Service Commission, which we believe to have been taking instructions from certain member states, has pursued an austerity agenda that has included: 

For staff in Geneva:

  • a 3.6 percent pay cut in the February pay slip of P staff (to be followed by a further estimated 1.5 percent pay cut in June) despite an understanding last July that the cuts would be more limited. The cuts were found by senior UN and external statisticians to be based on flawed use of methodology and calculation errors;
  • less frequent step increments and decreased education grant for P staff; and
  • an upcoming review of the methodology for setting G staff pay at which the ICSC will consider increasing the weight of local government salaries, which are lower, in the total mix. This will reduce G pay.

For staff outside Geneva:

  • cuts in the salary scale for G staff of 13 percent in Bangkok and 25 percent in Tokyo, partly from the way local government salaries have been included; and
  • reneging on a commitment to increase pay for P staff in Budapest by 7 percent.

This is against a background of austerity at the UN in Geneva which includes for example:

  • an important number of administrative G staff posts to be offshored with no clear methodology nor transparent reasoning; and
  • the decision, which we believe to have been made suddenly, to close the reference unit.

In conclusion

This vote is extremely important. We hope you will take part. And should the vote be positive we trust you will participate in the strike.


Consultation on a proposal for a strike | Consultation sur une proposition de grève

A consultation on a proposal for a strike has been requested by the Staff Coordinating Council, as per article 16 of the Regulations on Representation of the Staff of the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Polling Board therefore invites all staff to reply to the following question: 

Do you agree to resort to a strike of one or more days against the ongoing deterioration in your pay and conditions of service, if all means of reaching agreement with our employer and ICSC fail?

Please find below the statement of reasons making it advisable to call a strike, as proposed by the Staff Coordinating Council: 

Following your recent demands, the UNOG Staff Coordinating Council has decided to call for a referendum to resort to one or more days of strike. 

Such strike action may be required as part of the campaign to determine pay and conditions in a more balanced, participatory, fair and transparent manner. 

The serious and ongoing deterioration in employment conditions for all staff categories in all duty stations has resulted from the decisions of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC). For P staff in Geneva this includes 3.6 percent pay cut in the February pay slip (to be followed by a further estimated 1.5 percent pay cut in June) and the outcome of the compensation review, including the unified salary scale, less frequent step increments and decreased education grant. For GS staff, it includes a review of the compensation and salary survey methodology, due to start this summer, that will likely, as things stand, lead to further reductions in pay (Cuts have already been implemented to GS pay by 10 percent in Bangkok and 25 percent in Tokyo).

The ICSC breached an earlier understanding reached in July 2017 that the pay cut for P staff in Geneva would not exceed 3 percent. This is one of several examples of ICSC decision-making lacking accountability, transparency and based on erroneous calculations. There have been distortions in the official methodology and there are serious concerns about the professional independence of the body. 

As a result, staff have lost confidence in the ICSC and are disappointed that the UN, contrary to some specialized agencies, has already implemented the ICSC’s cuts.

The strike would be a tool of last resort, should other means of reaching agreement with our employer and ICSC fail.

For these reasons, the Council advises you to vote yes. 

The consultation will be held on Thursday 15 March 2018, in the following buildings: 

Palais des Nations:

- Door 6     09.30 - 12.30

- Door 40     13.00 - 16.00

Palais Wilson:     10.30 - 12.30

ITC:     10.30 - 12.30

Motta:     14.00 - 16.00

DuPont de Nemours Building:     14.00 - 16.00 

Voting procedure

To vote, electors are required to present their UN badge or legitimation card.  Each staff member who holds a contract of any kind on the date of the consultation is entitled to vote.   

The Polling Officers:

Astrit Sulstarova, President

Tor Bothner, Vice-President 

Ahmed Darwish

Amélia Delle Foglie

Guoyong Liang 

Khanam Jauhan

Madeleine Cieniewicz

Mark Pryce

Oleksandr Svirchevskyy

Rafik Fathi 

Yenlin Zhang


Inter-Agency Games 2018 | Jeux Inter-institutions 2018

We are pleased to share with you the announcement below from the United Nations Staff Sports Commission in Geneva (CSPNU).

As is traditional, the Staff Council will subsidize the participation of its dues-paying members

All staff attending are granted three days of special leave with full pay.

Good luck to all and bring us back some medals !


The women who inspire us on IWD 2018 | Des femmes qui nous inspirent aujourd'hui

On International Women's Day, we would like to pay tribute to the brave teachers of West Virginia, three-quarters of them women, who went on strike last week in the face of deteriorating pay and conditions, and on Tuesday won a 5 percent pay rise. More here:

As we continue our campaign against the untransparent and arbitrary way in which our pay and conditions are being set by the ICSC (15 commissioners of which 13 men and 2 women), let us be inspired by the courage of these women and men.

Our best wishes to all of you on International Women's Day!


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