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

For our Annual General Assembly in February, we had called for questions that our members wanted to ask to the Committee, opening the floor for any questions to be answered in a transparent and genuine manner. We had also committed to publishing the responses.

The Committee was really impressed by all the questions that came to us. ILO staff, whether they are members or not, have questions for the Staff Union, want them to be responded to and turn to the Union to get responses.

We are proud, but also challenged to always go the extra mile!

It took us time to publish… but we want to live up to our commitments. So we decided to not only provide you with the responses that we had in February but also to indicate how we would respond to the same questions a few months after…

We will do this progressively, covering the different topics covered.

For this time, let us focus on recruitment and selection. We also have one additional contribution from a staff member who wanted to share his/her insights on the issue. You will find the article below.

These are the questions we had received on recruitment and selection, how we responded in February and how we would respond today:

1- I am not a member of the Staff Union, but I sometimes wonder if they have a position on the extensive direct appointment of officials being made by the current DG. Even appointing people who had already retired from the Office to management positions, or determining in advance that those selected must be women, or hiring people who have no link to the world of work, for example, for high-ranking positions. The abuse of these sometimes non-transparent practices frustrates the expectations of many officials who want to make a career in the Office and marginalises them. This should not happen, as such frustration generates discouragement and demotivates people.

How we responded in February: We agree and have raised this directly with the DG the same morning of the AGM. It is unfair to the staff who seek to develop their careers by taking managerial responsibilities.

How we would respond today: We still stand by our statement above and fully understand the frustration. We have gone a step further with a broadcast issued, in an ironic tone, a few weeks after our AGM. Managerial positions are by direct selection according to our Staff Regulations and is the prerogative of the DG to assess how to fill these positions. We will keep calling upon the need to consider internal candidates and provide opportunities for colleagues.

2 – I have worked in the ILO for more than 17.5 years from a Finance Assistant to Operations Officer level. However, I am not happy with the selection and recruitment process for the professional level posts. I have been applying for various posts but unsuccessful due to the French requirement. Although my area of work requires more of technical expertise, the office is using this language requirement as a discriminatory element. I have the required qualifications (more than enough), experience, competence, etc. but the office doesn’t consider me for professional posts. Paradoxically, the office has been observed in applying double standard by recruiting people who do not have French knowledge. Is it possible for the staff union to challenge the office in this regard?

How we responded in February: The generic job description for the P2 Finance Officer post requires “Excellent command of English, French or Spanish; good working knowledge of one of the other two languages.” However, the Staff Regulations state that “Officials in the Professional category whose mother tongue is not one of the working languages shall be required to possess a fully satisfactory working knowledge of one of the working languages of the Office, as prescribed in article 4.2(a) (Filling of vacancies) and may be required to acquire a knowledge of a second working language.” Having said that, they may require French if the post you apply to serves one or more French-speaking country.

How we would respond today: The generic job descriptions have not changed and hence the requirements are still the same. One change has, however, been introduced in the Staff Regulations that provide that “Upon appointment, officials in the Professional category whose mother tongue is not one of the working languages shall be required to possess a fully satisfactory working knowledge of one of the working languages of the Office, as prescribed in article 4.2(a) (Filling of vacancies) and will be expected may be required to acquire a knowledge of a second working language.” This underlines a few things: that the knowledge of a second language might not be identified as a requirement in a specific JD and in that case it should not be a requirement imposed on the colleague in case s/he is selected; that the provision of our collective agreement still applies – the one that provides for having the knowledge of a second knowledge can also be considered as the native language of the official in case this native knowledge is not one of the 3 working knowledge of the Office; that the possibility to acquire a second working knowledge of the Organization is key for mobility purposes for colleagues in the Professional category; and that the Office should be able to offer language opportunities to meet the expectation.

3- Why are some people being transferred without competition, for example in HR?

How we responded in February: This is the case in very limited posts. Article 4.2(e) of the Staff Regulations states that “Transfer in the same grade, promotion or appointment by direct selection by the Director-General shall be the normal method of filling vacancies:

  • of Chiefs of Branch and Directors of offices in the field;
  • in technical cooperation projects;
  • in the Office of the Director-General;
  • of principal secretary to a Deputy Director-General;
  • of a purely temporary nature, up to two years, of a specialist nature, not expected to lead to a career in the ILO, any extension beyond two years being subject to article 4.2(f).” The proposed amendments will limit this even more.

How we would respond today: We have negotiated some amendments to this article in the Staff Regulations which have been included in our new Collective Agreement on a New procedure for Recruitment and Selection, which now reads as follows:
“Transfer in the same grade, promotion or appointment by direct selection by the Director General shall be the normal method of filling vacancies:
• (i) of Chiefs of Branch and Directors of offices in the field;
• (ii) in technical development cooperation projects;
• (iii) in the Office of the Director-General;
• (iv) of principal secretary to the Deputy Director-General and Assistant Director- Generals;
• (v) of a purely temporary and specialist nature not expected to lead to a career in the ILO. Such appointments shall be limited to a maximum period of two years except in the following cases:
o Transfer in the same grade, promotion or appointment may be extended to a total maximum period of four years if it is made to fill an existing position within the Office which is temporarily vacated due to the incumbent being (a) on extended sick leave, including in the case of a disability benefit awarded under the Regulations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund in respect of an incapacity that is not deemed to be permanent; or (b) on special leave, including during an inter-agency mobility assignment; or (c) assigned to a time-bound development cooperation project or other time-bound activity within the ILO. Any subsequent extension of the assignment to the vacancy shall be subject to article 4.2(f).
o Transfer in the same grade, promotion or appointment shall not normally be extended beyond 12 months where it is made to temporarily fill vacant or newly created positions established by the budget of the Organization pending a competitive recruitment process in accordance with article 4.2(f).

The Director-General may in such cases, at his or her discretion and after consulting the Recruitment, Assignment and Mobility Committee (RAMC) mentioned in article 10.6, decide on the use of one or other of the methods of filling vacancies referred to in article 4.2(f).”

4- To take strong position against any kind of favoritism in all types of recruitments (local and international)

How we responded in February: We have taken a strong position, through the examination of JDs, the independent panel members and the RAMC. In the collective agreement, we have agreed to “establish jointly agreed procedures where they do not already exist”. The example of the Americas is strong, as it provides a role for the Staff Union in all stages of recruitment.

How we would respond today: We would respond the same way, with adding, however, that our regional titulars are conducting now some consultations with respective representatives in the field offices on how to improve recruitment modalities to be able to negotiate accordingly at regional and/or local level. We hope that we can get results on this front which is key for the Staff Union.

To find out more, here’s what a colleague had to say:

Sometimes, we bump into a colleague and our “hi, how are you?” is answered by a simple “fine, thanks” which does not sound so fine. Caught up in our busy routine at work, it is not easy to respond “I am not well”, because we do not always have the time to explain or trust each other enough to describe what we are going through to colleagues. We may think that regardless of how we feel, nothing will change. So why speaking out?

Other times, we open up because we feel at trust and as Staff Union members, as colleagues, we should watch out for each other. One’s experience is often also the reality of someone else! A TC staff colleague accepted to answer a few questions regarding his/her situation, for the Staff Union to share with all:

  • You have been with the ILO for several years. Do you feel your contract situation has improved over time?

Unfortunately, I have not seen any improvement. In fact, my initial contract was more stable compared to subsequent ones, despite gaining expertise.

  • What is it like to search for a job, while managing your workload? How do you feel?

I feel stressed as the constant job search hinders my ability to fully dedicate myself to my current role. It is a loss both for the organization and for me: I cannot be fully dedicated to my current job, and it creates worries, anxiety for the future. While I trust the integrity of the organisation in the majority of the recruitment processes, it is very rare to get feedback or visibility on the timeline of the process. It is hard to plan the different steps of my career and to improve myself. This lack of clarity also has implications on my personal life.

  • Do you believe your situation is common among your peers?

I think that for every one of us experiencing such instability, it is difficult to share what we are going through. However, when I opened up to peers about this, I discovered that many of them share the same experience of feeling alone in their journey. Whereas peers who experience the same thing could share and empathize, the competitive and isolating environment makes it difficult to foster solidarity among colleagues, especially when we have been experiencing this precariousness for years. It seems to me that this precariousness and lack of support in career management have become ingrained in the system.

  • What makes you motivated to continue working for the ILO?

I love the job and the organisation. I hope to keep contributing my knowledge and expertise towards advancing the decent work agenda and social justice. It is the most beautiful mandate among all. For this reason, I would like my organisation to be more aligned with its core values, prioritizing issues like precariousness and weak career management.

Precarious contracts impact our life at work and our personal life. The Staff Union is aware of the difficulties that colleagues experience – reflected in the report of the survey on How contractual arrangements impact our lives – and continues to pursue Job security as an objective for 2020-2025. Negotiations with the Administration on this topic are still ongoing with, as recent progress obtained, the fact that all new fully funded TC contracts or contract extensions will now be offered for two years instead of one year, provided that the duration of the project and work assignment covers this period of time. Contact your Union representatives or the SU Committee for more information. Keep hoping, and do not forget… Divided we beg, United we Bargain!

Version française (deepl): ici

Spanish version (deepl) : aquí

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