At the bottom of this article, you will find the translation into the other working languages of the ILO.

Moving forward with responding to the questions that were raised for our Annual General Meeting in February, we would like now to come back on the mobility issue.


  1. Is the mobility issue a paper tiger? It does seem to see a day of light.

How we responded in February: After a Joint Administration/Staff Union retreat in October 2023 we negotiated amendments to the Staff Regulations to stimulate geographical mobility by giving priority in competitions to staff who have served the required time in their duty stations and who apply to a position in their same grade in another duty station, including TC-funded staff with more than 5 years of continuous service. These amendments will be submitted to the March session of the GB.  We have agreed to continue discussions to expand mobility, and we are currently redrafting the mobility IGDS to incorporate temporary assignments also for locally recruited staff.

How we would respond today: The amendments have indeed been approved by the Governing Body in March 2024 and we have signed a new Collective Agreement on a Procedure for Recruitment and Selection. The negotiations for new provisions on Mobility are currently still under way, and there should be one IGDS regarding mobility for one year and more, and another IGDS that covers the mobility of less than one year, being in this case considered as career development opportunities. They should be finalized in the coming couple of months, and we are eager to see their publication. The Staff Union is guided by the following aspirational principles in these negotiations on mobility, underlining that the Staff Union:

➢ Affirms that ILO staff add value because of their contribution to the development of policies and activities that promote better working conditions around the world. Often this is country-specific, but also as often it is based on the unique field of expertise required by the ILO mandate.

Supports the vision that mobility in the ILO should be seen as a voluntary opportunity for all staff to enhance career opportunities, promote a shared culture and knowledge of ILO mandate

➢ Affirms that diversity, equity and inclusion objectives and mobility policies and processes should align

➢ Considers mobility in light of the evolution of the ILO staff demographics, including share of various categories of staff (P, NO, G), of contract types (FT, WLT, ST) and also personal related consideration (family situations, etc.)

➢ Calls for consideration of the ILO structure and the extent to which it is fit for purpose in supporting mobility and ensuring due diligence and protection of staff

➢ Considers that mobility should be considered from a functional and geographical point of view

➢ Calls for reviewing recruitment and selection, performance management framework and human resource planning in discussing mobility

  • From the discussions and agreements of the Staff Union with ILO/HRD, please explain how the new policy on geographical mobility would prioritize staff mobility to HQ from hardship duty stations.

How we responded in February: The proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations include text that states: “Priority will be given to internal candidates who are eligible for mobility from an assignment in a D or E classified hardship duty station.” This includes applications to move to a duty station outside HQ.

How we would respond today: Indeed, the amendments to the Staff Regulations have been approved by the Governing Body in March 2024 and also included in our Collective agreement on a Procedure for Recruitment and Selection, and this is a good step forward.

With the ILO having increased some of its operations in hardship duty stations, it is essential to have support for our colleagues who are exposed to such difficult contexts. Most of the time, operations in hardship duty stations are delivered through development cooperation activities, combining hardship of the places where they operate and hardship of their contractual situation. Our colleagues need the relevant support and recognition, and more needs to be done – the Staff Union is aware of it and will keep fighting for it.

  • I understand the new mobility policy provides further advantages to field colleagues to get posts at HQ. In the past this has been criticised that this is indirect discrimination as more male staff than female staff are in the field. How do you view this?

How we responded in February: In 2018, there were more women than men moving from the field to HQ, and they were even in 2019; in 2021-22, the figure was 10 men and 9 women. But the new policy enables staff not only to move to HQ but between duty stations, including from HQ to field duty stations. Anyway, we have discussed this concern with HRD, and we need to study the outcomes of the changes. 

How we would respond today: In our current negotiations regarding mobility, we strongly call on the Administration to consider the demographics of the staff today, but also personal considerations, including family-related ones, in the support being provided for mobility, which should remain voluntary. Responses to the survey on mobility that was conducted last summer by the Staff Union are also informing the negotiations, showing that ILO staff are very much keen on mobility but often do not see how mobility is valued in terms of career development or how the Administration recognizes the challenges in terms of family dynamics. While most of the entitlements related to mobility are decided at the UN level, it is important that any policy takes into account how diverse workforce is affected in different ways by mobility.

  • Where do you stand regarding mobility issues? Will mobility cover local staff?

How we responded in February: We referred to our response to the first question.

How we would respond today: In addition to the above-mentioned responses, we would underline that we are calling for various forms of mobility to be considered, and not limiting mobility to geographical mobility, which has been the main focus over the years. Our contracts categories create different kind of rights and obligations, and the expectations towards staff and from staff cannot be the same, whether a colleague is recruited locally or internationally. Our aspirational principles apply to all colleagues. 

  • My experience highlights a potential gap in reaching staff who don’t benefit from the current mobility policy, as I applied for a position in another duty station after complying with the five year requirement to qualify for a geographical mobility but a new hire was chosen. Recognizing this may not be an isolated case, I’d like to understand from the staff union’s perspective:

• What existing mechanisms are in place to reach out to and understand the needs of staff who haven’t benefited from the mobility policy?

• Are there any additional outreach methods the union could consider to ensure diverse staff voices are heard regarding mobility opportunities?

• What collaborative efforts can be made to improve communication and transparency on the mobility selection process for all staff?

What we responded in February: After we conducted the staff survey on mobility in 2022, we prepared a summary report which formed the basis for the negotiations in 2023 and 2024.    Any official who does not succeed in their application is entitled to receive feedback as to the reason.

What we would respond today: This experience is certainly not isolated and, having heard our members, this is why we agreed to put the mobility policy on the table of the negotiations. The request came mainly from the Administration, which considered the need to change geographical mobility as a priority, and the SU agreed to look at mobility but from a broader perspective, and not restricted “only” to respond to the often-heard statement that “colleagues do not want to move”. Taking on board the contributions from our general meetings, as well as from consultations at our regional meetings, we also decided to collect more information to inform our position, through a survey last summer, and through consultations with different profiles of colleagues, with a view to being inclusive and hearing from various categories of staff. We welcome inputs through your Union representatives, whether they are at the local committees or in the units/departments at HQ. They are here to listen and channel the information to inform our negotiations and to help us in monitoring their implementation.

Version française (deepl: ici

Spanish version (deepl) : aquì

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