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STU Flash, 7 April 2022

Oral Statement by the STU, 214th session of the Executive Board

STU/70th Council/22/010
7 April 2022

214th Session of the Executive Board of UNESCO




Thank you, Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The STU took part in the preliminary consultations on the Human Resources Strategy 2023-2027 and is eagerly awaiting the outcome. The STU reiterates the crucial need for transparency for a more effective dialogue between the Administration and the Staff Associations. This also entails clear guidelines, which alas is not always the case.

Regarding the return to office, STU would like to recall that during the past two years, the results, and the continuous commitment of the staff, as well as its ability to innovate in the way of working, have been recognized on numerous occasions. UNESCO staff have proven to be competent, creative, and motivated, ensuring that throughout the pandemic that UNESCO's mission was accomplished. As a result, many colleagues felt surprised, even offended, by the note from the Administration of 10 March, ordering them to return to the office full-time as of 14 March, just one business day later.

This decision does not appear to have taken into account the results of the ADM staff survey, nor the benefits of teleworking as highlighted by both WHO and ILO. It also seems to disregard the lessons learned over the past two years, almost de facto making colleagues wishing to request authorization to telework feel guilty. In addition, the pandemic is far from over, as evidenced by recent contamination figures and staff are worried about their health. Moreover, STU urges the Administration to remember that UNESCO has already paid a heavy price to this virus.

The STU therefore regrets the suspension of the previous teleworking policy put in place during the pandemic and renews its availability to contribute to the formulation of the new policy on Flexible Working Arrangements as soon as possible. The STU would also like to point out that its comments were submitted to the Administration in the summer of 2020, and that it is appropriate to adjust them in light of accumulated experience.

As for mobility, STU regrets that the Administration did not consider it necessary to publish an update of the process following the recommendations of IOS in 2020. The 2021-2022 exercise took place without clear, precise, and transparent criteria, which could expose UNESCO to legal proceedings before ILOAT with a high risk of being condemned.

The results of the mobility exercise once again confirm the specialized nature of a large majority of posts in our Organisation, one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations system.

Can we talk about geographical mobility, when the number of positions subject to mobility and available is not sufficient to complete the exercise in a large number of cases? What is the link with career development? What is the impact on morale of the staff concerned, when most of the colleagues who voluntarily participated in the exercise were not mobilized? What attention is paid to the dimension of gender equality and equal opportunity? Thus, in many cases, mobility has been rather a functional mobility than a geographical one. For the most part, colleagues at Headquarters remained mostly at Headquarters in another post in the same Sector due to the lack of availability of posts with a profile suited to their specialization. Also, some colleagues who reached their SDA were denied the opportunity to change posts, the given reason was that no post matching their profile could be found.

We do have concerns about the effectiveness of the mobility policy, which has occupied the Bureau of Human Resources and the Administration for many months and keeps many colleagues in uncertainty as to their future, and this for finally very limited results. Therefore, the STU requests that an evaluation of the 2021-2022 Mobility exercise be carried out before starting the next exercise.

The STU will now be attentive to the implementation of the functional mobility which concerns colleagues in the service and office framework and hopes that it will be carried out in a more clear and transparent manner.

The STU would like to conclude with a message of hope. The STU believes that with mutual respect, respect of rights, gender equality and continued constructive dialogue, we can and will meet current and future challenges and the STU will continue its relentless opposition to injustice.

The STU is proud to serve our Organisation and for those colleagues who have chosen to dedicate their career to the service of the values and objectives of UNESCO: despite the challenges, despite the obstacles, continue to believe in and commit to our Organisation, its mandate, and its future!

Together we can and will work to make our Organisation a better place to work.

It is an honour and a privilege to be among you today as the President of STU and my door remains open to all.

Thank you for your attention.