Wednesday, 13 November 2013

UN Rights Save UN Lives: Your Help is Needed


I've blogged previously about the bizarre stance taken by the UN centrally earlier this year to seek the derecognition of unions and staff associations within UN agencies. As someone who has worked closely with a number of UN staff unions I have seen at close quarters what vital work they do to defend the interests of workers routinely exposed to the greatest possible risks when carrying out their work in scenes of natural disaster and conflict.

And, as UN agencies set up field and duty stations in those areas of the Phillipines most affected by typhoon Haiyan, we are reminded yet again of the vital role that UN workers play when disaster strikes.

This weekend the UN unions are hoping to have a mass publication of the letter below in a wide range of publications. And so now, UN workers need your help.

Will you please copy and paste the text and send from your union/branch/chapel etc?

It is vitally important that the world's leading body for social justice extends the basic human right of freedom of association to its own staff.


 The United Nations seeks to promote peace and human rights across the world by bringing nations together to settle differences through negotiation and diplomacy.

 We believe your readers should know that while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on world leaders to talk out their problems, he refuses to use his skills as a negotiator to settle differences with his own staff.  We call that double standards.

 UN staff work in incredibly dangerous conditions in warzones and disaster zones. They are increasingly becoming targets, with more than 200 killed since 2003. Yet they are unable to negotiate for better security, or rights for their loved ones if they die, after the Secretary-General walked out of talks with UN staff unions in June.  Union recognition was withdrawn by UN management, leaving both sides unable to work together to improve the safety and welfare of UN staff.

 This is at odds with what the UN says others should do. For example, it advises countries signing free trade agreements to include rules requiring the promotion of labour rights.

 The UN unions want to reach agreement on staff negotiating rights through reasoned discussion. For that to happen, Ban Ki-moon must stop undermining his employees’ human rights and restore recognition to their elected representatives.  If your readers agree, we urge them to send Ban Ki-moon this message: “Union Rights Save UN Lives.”

For further background reading:

In Solidarity


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