National staff of the United Nations Integrated and Peace-Building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) last Tuesday staged a peaceful strike action over what they described as discriminatory and unfair treatment meted at them by the management.
Displaying placards in front of their office at Signal Hill, west of Freetown, the disgruntled workers demanded that the Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General in the country, Gens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, must go because of his total disrespect for them in public and privately and for showing little or no consideration for cultural differences and sensitivity.
Speaking to Concord Times, chairman of the national staff association, Abu Sesay, stated that the UNIPSIL management has refused to pay due attention to their welfare since 2009 and no action has been taken since a petition letter on the outcome of the 2011 salary survey was submitted to the administration.
"We have reminded the management long before now and directed its attention to the unfulfilled promises and the glaring disparity with respect to the terms and conditions of service between national and international staff and our counterparts in the sub-region. We will not stop the strike action until our demands are met," Sesay said.
He demanded an immediate review of national staff conditions of service in line with other missions and the prevailing economic situation in the country.
Sesay opined that they want immediate clarifications on why the UN decided to translate a general 5% cut into 30% for UNIPSIL, the ERSG's decision to abolish posts contrary to his statements made at his maiden town hall meeting, why sufficient considerations have not been given to the 2012 electoral process and its possible outcome to determine cut for staff members and why UNIPSIL simultaneously increased fuel and security allowances for international staff by almost 50%, among others.
"We request to understand the rationale behind the cutting of posts but at the same time increasing subsidies when the security and fuel situation in Sierra Leone have not changed. In fact, under the new ERSG's stewardship, the mission has not clearly defined its elections strategy or made any concrete efforts to interact with the government, political parties and other key stakeholders in view of the recent political developments and we want to know why," he stated.
When contacted, UNIPSIL's Head of Mission Support, Ahmed Munnia, said he has no comment to make on the development.