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UN unions start fight to win back basic bargaining rights

UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon has derecognised unions representing the organisation's 65,000 workers

An international solidarity campaign has been launched after United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon derecognised unions representing the organisation's 65,000 workers.

Unions have been seeking greater protection for members undertaking increasingly dangerous missions.

Most are united in the
Co-ordinating Committee for Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA).

In Britain, CCISUA is affiliated to the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU).

CCISUA says that in the last 10 years there have been 555 attacks on UN staff and over 200 deaths.

The unions have been seeking improved health and safety protection and a reduction in the use of private security contractors.

They have also called for improvements to peacekeeping missions, better protection for whistleblowers, improved screening-out of war criminals and human-rights violators seeking UN posts, the retention of experienced staff and effective redeployment procedures.

In response Mr Ban unilaterally stripped the unions of negotiating rights and abolished the negotiating process.

CCISUA said that had removed their ability to take up issues affecting the safety and lives of UN workers.

"Because of the global work of the UN this is a potentially powerful and very negative message to give the world - that unions are not welcome, even in an organisation dedicated to peace, social justice and upholding international conventions on freedom of assembly and collective bargaining," CCISUA said.

It and the GFTU called on unions around the world to confront the UN about Mr Ban's decision.

The International Trade Union Confederation has already taken up the issue.

Supporters have been urged to write to Britain's ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant at lyall.grant@fco.gov.uk as well as Mr Ban at bkm@un.org, copying in staff-management committee vice-president Ian Richards, at ian.richards@unctad.org

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