The International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) met in its eighty-fourth session in New York from 20 to 31 March 2017. One of the agenda items discussed related to post adjustment issues, specifically the results of the 2016 round of cost-of-living surveys at headquarters duty stations and Washington, DC.
In this respect, we would like to draw your urgent attention to the ICSC decision which will have a direct impact on the remuneration of the Geneva-based staff in the Professional and higher categories.
The ICSC cost-of-living survey conducted in Geneva will result in a lower post adjustment based on several factors. It is necessary to recall that the aim of this exercise is to compare the evolution of prices in the different duty stations where the survey is carried out to the evolution of prices in New York, which is the base of the entire system. According to the ICSC secretariat, the negative result for Geneva is due to a combination of factors, including the fact that inflation in New York far surpassed that in Geneva, the sustained strengthening of the US dollar against the Swiss franc as well as methodological changes approved by the Commission, as recommended by ACPAQ. The survey result will lead to a reduction in pay of approximately 7.5% (in US dollar terms) or about 6.7% (in Swiss franc terms), as of the survey date of October 2016. When updated to April 2017, these figures are 8.2% and 6.6% respectively. Roughly, the cut amounts to a month's worth of pay, which means that we would still be working 12 months but being paid the equivalent to 11 months.
During the thirty-ninth session of ACPAQ (held from 20 to 27 February 2017), as well as the current session of the ICSC, the staff federations seriously questioned some of the technical aspects of the cost-of-living survey conducted in Geneva. Accordingly, the Human Resources Network also sought further clarification considering that external consumer prices indices seemed to suggest that the overall reduction in the inflation in Geneva was much less than what the ICSC’s survey results seemed to indicate.
The staff federations requested the ICSC to either freeze the current post adjustment amount or find an alternative solution to avoid this decrease in remuneration. They also requested that the 5% mitigation
measure, which had been deleted from the methodology and operational rules, be reinstated. Thus far the ICSC has not agreed to accept any special measures which would be outside of the methodology and operational rules.
The Commission has decided that the results for Geneva be implemented on 1 May 2017, taking into account inflation and exchange rate fluctuations between the survey date and the date of the implementation of the results. It also decided that they would be implemented on the basis of existing transitional measures. This means that there will be no change in pay for existing staff during the period 1 April through 31 July 2017. Thereafter, the transitional amount would be decreased by 5% for the next 3-month period for existing staff, thereby creating a gradual reduction. As the amount of the post adjustment normally changes every month, it is not possible to predict with any certainty when the post adjustment for staff hired on or after 1 May 2017 would reach the same level as that for existing staff on the transitional measure.
Staff federations as well as Geneva-based organizations are requesting that the results not be implemented immediately, and that the ICSC await the results of its special price survey to be conducted in Brussels, with the objective of ensuring fair comparisons between the price data collected by the ICSC for New York and those collected under the ECP for covered group I duty stations, including the Europe-based HQ duty stations (Rome, Vienna, Paris, London and Madrid).
The Geneva-based staff associations/unions consider that this cut is unreasonable and are calling on their administrations to not comply with the ICSC’s decision.
To this end, FICSA is joining the UNOG Staff Coordinating Council's Extraordinary General Assembly this Thursday, 6 April at 1.30 p.m. in Room XIX at UNOG. FICSA is also liaising with other staff associations/unions in Geneva with a view to making this an all-Geneva staff meeting.
We hope to see Geneva-based members there in large numbers so that we can decide together on how we fight this shameful adjustment.
The FICSA Executive Committee