ILO Staff Vindicated, Pay Cuts Blocked

The ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) made public on 3 July its decision to reverse the pay cuts imposed by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).

The ILO staff union opposed the ICSC decision on a number of grounds: their data was faulty; their calculations were faulty; they did not consult the staff.

PSI supported the ILO staff union against the imposition of unilateral pay cuts. 

We encourage all UN staff to join a union and ensure the respect of all labour rights across the UN system. 

from the UN Staff unions Facebook page:


Today the staff of international organizations in Geneva successfully appealed a pay cut of 5.2 percent through the ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT).

The judges of the tribunal ruled that organizations were wrong to impose the pay cut in 2018, and that the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), which determined the cut using cost-of-living information, erred at the time in its actions.

It should be recalled that staff unions had contested the cut on the basis of strong evidence of errors of process and calculation, and poor quality data, as detailed in an official UN report (…/…/441/CRP9.pdf). Further, the pay cut did not reflect overall increases in the cost of living over the same period, in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Despite this evidence, all organizations in Geneva decided to apply the cut after coming under extraordinary pressure from certain member states. The pay cut triggered two strikes, two work stoppages and multiple demonstrations among the different organizations.

Over 2,100 staff appealed the pay cut, 1,300 through the ILOAT, which is one of two labour tribunals in the UN common system and has jurisdiction over most specialized agencies, and the remainder through the UN Dispute Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization. Today’s ruling only applies to staff in organizations that are members of the ILOAT. The UNDT has still to rule on the matter, having held hearings in October 2018.

However, this would go against the basic principles of how pay is set in the international organizations of the UN common system if staff were to be paid at different rates for the same work, only because of tribunal of which their organization is a member. We therefore call on the International Civil Service Commission to cancel the pay cut for all staff in Geneva.

Regardless of the outcome, the evidence presented at the ILOAT and UNDT shows the need to reform how pay and conditions are set in the UN common system. This includes obtaining genuine social dialogue at the ICSC and staff unions as equal partners at the table. It also means reviewing how data is collected and processed.

The ILOAT judgement also shows a positive impact from our staff union campaign. It was due to the strong concerns expressed by staff and a strong technical and legal case that the ICSC already made concessions in July 2017 that delayed the implementation of the pay cut by 8 months and reduced its magnitude from 7.7 percent to 5.2 percent. Our efforts also linked with campaigns to oppose pay cuts for staff in duty stations such as Bangkok and Tokyo, which strengthened solidarity and coordination of staff across the UN. The campaign has sent a strong signal to heads of organizations that any cuts to pay and conditions will be met with strong opposition.