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International Geneva UN Geneva staff may face deeper salary cuts

UN staff protest against pay cuts plans in Geneva.

UN staff protest against pay cuts plans outside of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on April 25, 2017

(Keystone)

The representatives of United Nations staff in Geneva are concerned that civil servants in the Swiss city may face deeper salary cuts than had been agreed last year. 

According to an article in Thursday’s Tribune de Genève newspaperexternal link, the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)external link is proposing to lower UN civil servants pay in Geneva by 5.1%, compared with last July’s 3% compromise. 

Last year, hundreds of UN staff in Geneva from various agencies and services took part in a work stoppage over the ICSC’s proposed 8% cut to salaries, the equivalent of almost a month's pay. The strike led to negotiations last year between senior UN officials and staff representatives. 

+ background to last year's strike action by UN staff in Geneva

However, the UNOG Staff Coordinating Councilexternal link reported on its site on Wednesday that it had just learnt that the ICSC was not planning to honour the July compromise and that a salary reduction of 3.5% would be applied in February and the remainder in June. 

The staff council denounced the ICSC move as “unexpected and unprecedented”. Staff council officials met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to discuss the matter. 

The council and UN staff are planning an emergency meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss possible collective action.

Purchasing power

The move last year to lower UN Geneva-level salaries involved reducing a so-called “post adjustment index” for professional staff working in the city.  

The idea came after the ICSC surveyed the cost of living in eight UN locations. It said the salary cut for Geneva-based staff would align them with colleagues in New York, where purchasing power had dropped.  

An estimated 9,500 staff work for the UN in Geneva at either the Palais des Nations European headquarters or at one of the numerous UN agencies dotted around the city, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

ATS/Tribune de Genève/sb

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