Two More Years Of Team Future As UNFSU Executive
VP - Liliya Galieva:
It has been almost two years that you cast your votes for the Team Future during the UNFSU elections in 2019. It is only two years but feels like ages. Indeed, it was a huge paradigm shift in all the working arrangements for our valuable colleagues in Field missions and to our Team Future due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since we took the office in October 2019, we literally did not have any grace period and almost immediately deep dived into the pandemic crisis.
We were constantly receiving feedback from you in the field regarding the implementation of the new Covid-19 policy and passing that information to the Management in NY HQ, who in their turn finetuned that policy. We saw five editions of those guidelines. And a sixth one will be promulgated soon. The remote working from home was a very challenging experience, but we are proud of all the colleagues, who were able to adjust to the new reality and deliver without detriment to the mission mandates. However, we also dealt with some negative externalities of malpractice in some missions and loose interpretation of the Covid-19 Guidelines by the management to the detriment of the staff members. Our Team Future helped our colleagues from Haiti mission to challenge the Leadership decision to cut the entitlements retroactively due to Covid -19 remote working arrangements and Staff members were successful in winning the MEU cases.
For me personally, those two years were a great learning experience in terms of shifting to mostly Human Resources issues. Despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic, we built upon the legacy of our predecessors’ team being part of the Staff Management Committees Working Groups on different Human Resource policies such as Mobility and Selection, Downsizing, Performance Management. It is still a work in progress as those Working Groups have not completed their mandates and the policies are still under review. I also worked on individual cases of the staff regarding Cigna and UN Pension Fund during those two years.
Our Team Future was heavily engaged with the very sensitive issue of downsizing missions (UNAMID, UNOGBIS), which was an extremely painful exercise due to the Delegation of Authority in place and the reluctance of Heads of Entities to accommodate staff members from downsizing missions. Upon UNFSU extensive communication with NY HQ, a team of three people was established specifically to deal with placing the staff into different entities. As a result, more than 100 colleagues were able to keep their jobs.
Our team established legal assistance to our colleagues through the UN retirees’ legal officers working pro bono and helping the staff to prepare cases for the UN Internal Justice System. The Legal Advisors Team assisted the staff from Haiti and UNAMID to file MEU cases against various administrative decisions.
Our Team Future is widely using different social media platforms and we receive your firsthand feedback. It is very important for us to hear your concerns, proposals, and information to be able to better represent you. We are together with you in all your endeavors.
Thus, looking forward into the future we count on your support to be re-elected for another term and represent all UN International Staff in the field missions with pride and dignity and to continue fighting for proper conditions of service and compensation for all hardship that our staff is encountering in different missions.
Vote for Team Future!
Still Stronger Together!
Your UNFSU VP Liliya Galieva
VP - Leila Manly-Spain:
In October 2019, I took up the important role of Vice President of the UNFSU. It was a steep learning curve and there was so much to digest and adapt to, not to mention moving and settling into a new country and working with a new team. I had to beef up my knowledge of the staff rules and even had to deep dive into policy documents and guidance.
I am honoured to be able to work with an amazing team and a diverse group of Council members in fulfilling our commitments to staff. One of our first major tasks in office was to hold the annual UNFSU Council meeting in November 2019. In the meeting, the Executive harnessed my skills as a Trainer, and I delivered Emotional Intelligence training to our Council members. It was a wonderful experience to engage directly with the people who represent our constituents.
I believe the work we do as staff representatives is very crucial to staff wellbeing and therefore everyone serving as staff rep should be equipped with the skills and resources to do so. The work of staff reps is in many instances, is a thankless job, but someone has to do it. My purpose comes from my belief that we are all gifted differently, and we need to use our gifts for the betterment of our communities.
My community is the staff of UN Field entities and my gift is my ability to connect with people. Over almost 2 years, I have had the privilege of working directly with staff on their individual cases. Some of these staff come from entities that do not have local staff unions, and in some cases, the matters are confidential, so staff feel more comfortable approaching the Executive, in order to maintain confidentiality. The cases have varied from abuse of authority by managers, harassment, entitlement issues, interpretation of the rules and guidelines, recruitment malpractice, performance management etc. In some instances, I have been able to sit down directly with the affected staff and management to thrash out the differences, and in some, I have provided referrals to experts in those specific areas, like the Ombudsman, OSLA or HR and Finance practitioners. What I have learnt through all of this, is that the “UN field” is an amazing entity, diverse, complex to the core, and yet, even with the challenges that exist, it truly is a blessing to work for and serve the people which make up this entity.
As my Team gears up to run for another term as your elected representatives, my vision remains that every member of the UNFSU, dues-paying member or not, by virtue of being an International Field staff of the UN and in every entity we represent, feels included and a part of a bigger body. No one should have to suffer alone or suffer in silence, because they know they have a union that stands up for them and is there to ensure that at every decision-making table, their rights, views and positions are taken into consideration.
I also want to ensure that not only at the Executive level but also at the local committee levels, committee members, who are crucial to the work we do, are empowered with the resources and tools, through training and dissemination of relevant information, to successfully represent their constituents and defend their rights. After all, there has never been a more important time for us to be united, as we are truly “Stronger together”.
Vote for Team Future!
Still Stronger Together!
Vice President- UNFSU
President - Mark Polane
When I took up the role of president of the union together with my amazing team members Liliya and Leila, I thought I was more or less prepared for the role and the work that would come with it.
Having fulfilled the role of President before from 1999 until the end of 2003, and having worked closely with Mr Stephen Towler in the last few years in my capacity as staff representative both in the UNGSC and the RSCE, I thought I had it all pretty well worked out…
The world turned upside down and everything changed because of the CoviD-19 Pandemic.
Nothing could have prepared us for the massive paradigm shift in the way we work, the way we live, the way we collaborate and thus how we as a Union represent you, the staff that are out there on the frontlines. Suddenly not just facing the “normal” stresses of everyday work and existence in some of the very hostile environments in which you work, but having to deal with lockdowns, no possibility for travel, the worry and fear for family and loved ones back home and all the other uncertainties that presented themselves.
Together, Leila, Liliya and I understood that we had our work cut out for ourselves. There was, however, another paradigm shift that had taken place. This was the reform that the UN Secretary-General had introduced, the implementation of his vision of a decentralized decision-making model, underpinned by the newly introduced “delegation of authority”. We recognized that this would fundamentally shift the way we as UNFSU executives had to operate, we understood that ensuring we have empowered and well-functioning UNFSU committees in the missions would become more and more important. We also recognized that as the UNFSU executive we needed to become more visible, better engaged with our entire constituency and with the leadership of the various missions.
Our vision which had been presented in the form of our manifesto, needed to accelerate and this is what we set out to do, I firmly believe that the vision we expressed then still stands and that building on that vision of being “Stronger Together” is the right path to follow for the next two years.
Further empowering our UNFSU committees in the missions, which we have already started by providing specific staff representational training, facilitated by a trade union specialist, sourced through the collaboration with our sister union FICSA, further exemplifies that we don’t just offer slogans, but we back them up by deeds.
Continuing to build bridges and collaborate with partners such as #NewWork that help facilitate positive changes and new ideas to how we can work better, more innovative and collaborative across the UN secretariat, thereby ensuring that voices from the field are heard and understood are crucial to help create an understanding that we need each other to make the work that the UN does successful. There shouldn’t be an HQ vs Field, or us vs them attitude, rather we should all embrace the motto that we are “Stronger Together”.
Going forward it is our intention to continue to advocate for the breaking down of silos and artificial barriers that hamper mobility, career progression and development. We want to see a UN that offers true equal opportunities, a “one-UN” that does not discriminate based on contractual arrangements, category of staff etc.
We have, in fact already submitted various proposals towards that aim, which we will present to you as well, and which we hope to gain some traction on in the years to come.
If ever there was a time in the history of the United Nations to significantly change the internal staffing structures and create a UN personnel system that is fit for the future, it is now! Failure to do so may very well challenge the relevance of the United Nations itself.
We hope that you will give us your trust and allow us to serve you for an additional two years to continue to work on your behalf to create the UN we want and the conditions of service that warrant the term, “model employer”.
(Still) Stronger Together!
Vote for your future, vote Team Future.
President, United Nations Field Staff Union