Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee
THIRD ITEM ON THE AGENDA
International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin
Report of the 60th Session of the Board of the Centre
1. The Board of the International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin, held its 60th Session in Turin on 6 November 1998.
2. Its report, which is reproduced in the Appendix, is submitted to the Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee in accordance with a decision taken by the Governing Body at its 222nd Session (February-March 1983).(1)
Geneva, 10 November 1998.
1. GB.222/10/31, para. 46.
Report on the 60th Session of the Board of the Centre
(Turin, 6 November 1997)
1. The Chairman, Mr. Michel Hansenne, Director-General of the ILO, welcomed the members of the Board of the Centre on the occasion of its 60th Session. He was particularly pleased to note the presence of the Minister of Labour and Social Security of the Republic of the Congo, the Secretary of State for Labour of Argentina, and the representatives of the Region of Piedmont and the City of Turin.
2. Mr Goglio, Councillor responsible for vocational training and labour for the Piedmont Region, expressed the regrets of the President of the Region, who was unable to attend the session on account of other commitments. He observed that the Centre continued to enjoy the full support of the local authorities, and congratulated it on its increasing integration with the local situation thanks to the capability and constant efforts of its Director and its staff. The Region had passed local legislation allocating a total of US$1 million to support the Staff Training College Project during the period 1997-2000. It also supported the organization of study visits and contacts with enterprises in Piedmont. The decentralized "Resources" project, implemented in part by the Centre, would enable 200 vocational training specialists to become familiar with the reform of private training agencies serving both Piedmontese enterprises with a European approach and local authorities. In addition, the "ADAPT" project devoted to employment for local development and funded by the European Union on behalf of SMEs, had been initiated by the Centre in conjunction with the Region. He was pleased that establishment of the United Nations Staff College and the imminent arrival of the UNICRI would strengthen the presence of the United Nations in Piedmont. Several new projects of an international and particularly a Mediterranean nature would be developed in the near future.
3. The President asked Mr. Goglio to convey the thanks of all the members of the Board to the President of the Region of Piedmont.
Director's report on the activities of the Centre in 1997
Report on the implementation of the programme and budget
for the current financial year (1998), and budget proposals
for the 1999 financial year
(First and second items on the agenda)
4. The Director of the Centre illustrated the main trends that had emerged in the Centre's activities during the past four years and those foreseen for 1998. Training activities had more than doubled between 1994 and 1997, and probably reached the highest level in the history of the Centre. A growing share of these activities (40 per cent) had been conducted in the field, resulting in lower costs and less strain on the campus's accommodation facilities. Group training activities, both in Turin and in the field, had increased in number, while the number of individual fellowships, following a sharp fall in previous years, had since become stable thanks to the contribution of individual training initiatives linked to the Centre's own projects. The number of participants had also doubled since 1994, while the number of participant/days had risen by 45 per cent over the same period. The participation of women in the Centre's activities had increased. The regional programmes as a whole had experienced a progression, though there had been a slight drop in the number of participants in the Regional Programme for central and eastern Europe owing to both a substantial World Bank project reaching its end and a reduction of some of their self-financed courses by certain countries in this region. More than 80 per cent of the Centre's activities were devoted to activities lying within the ILO's mandate; the remainder related to areas with which the United Nations Staff College project was concerned. This move towards integration of the Centre's activities with the ILO's programmes was the fruit of a strategy adopted in 1989 and was based on the idea of a constant dialogue on the part of both Geneva and Turin involving the ILO's technical departments and field structures. The Centre's technical capacity has also been strengthened in the ILO's specific action sectors in order to permit and encourage this development. An even more recent move had been the secondment to the Centre of a social economics expert from the Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP) project, while two technical programmes -- on employment and labour relations -- would be created. These developments had been mainly rendered possible thanks to the use of credits approved by the Board for financing the investment plan. The Director then introduced Mr Lenglet, Director of the Training Department, and Mr. Machin, the new Director of the United Nations Staff College Project. Mr. Machin and his colleagues have just completed an analysis of the needs of the agencies of the United Nations system with a view to adjusting its programmes to the requirements of the reform of the United Nations and drawing up a plan of activities for the residual duration of the project. Publications, graphic presentations and printed works prepared with the use of advanced information technology, and in great demand on the part of the Centre itself, the ILO and the European Training Foundation, are constantly increasing in number, and the new catalogue of the Centre's publications was now available. Further steps have been taken to computerize the Centre through the modernization of the laboratory devoted to new learning technology and the setting up of a second laboratory, the creation of an Internet site, and the organization of a growing number of video conferences. All of these functions will be regrouped within the future DELTA distance training and advanced learning technology programme. A particular effort was being made in the field of programme quality and evaluation. A "total quality" pilot project has been initiated under the responsibility of the Regional Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean in order to identify improvements to be introduced in the Centre's methods, products, procedures and equipment. This exercise will eventually be extended to all the Centre's sectors. As far as evaluation was concerned, participants are regularly required at the end of an activity to assess the training they have received through a questionnaire. This questionnaire will be standardized and computerized as a source of lessons on how to devise and conduct future activities. The measures will also include certification of long-term training actions on the part of outside experts. Lastly, a follow-up dialogue with participants will allow better appreciation of the long-term impact of training and evaluation of the manner in which the action plans they prepare at the end of every training period spent in Turin are put into practice. An associate expert made available by the French Government has been recruited for this purpose. As to the question of staff, the Director said it was necessary to reconcile the flexibility required to adapt to changing and rapidly evolving tasks with the legitimate aspirations of staff members for stability, observance of the rules governing the international civil service and the need to secure the proper balancing of the Centre's finances. Several adaptations have been made to reach these ends in a context in which the number of permanent staff members remains unchanged, whereas the volume of activities was increasing. In particular, and as authorized by the Board, project-linked fixed-term contracts have been granted, and management of short-term contracts corresponding to temporary tasks has been the subject of special attention. Since 1995, 34 short-term contracts for tasks corresponding to more permanent needs have been converted into fixed-term contracts. A fresh effort was also being made to allow a further movement in this direction as far as this may be possible. In order to bring into effect the new human resources policy worked out in conjunction with a high-level consultant and discussed with the Staff Union, a specialist will be recruited to implement a more active staff development policy. As to the campus, constant efforts have been made since 1991 to refurbish the offices and classrooms, complete new rooms, new kitchens and a new restaurant and self-service canteen, and build a pavilion that will house the advanced technology and distance training project, and another for the UNICRI. To put into effect a recommendation made by the External Auditor, a draft plan of operations to be undertaken over a period of six years, including some substantial safety measures, has been submitted to the City of Turin. The amount involved was 25 billion Lire. The Mayor of Turin has expressed his readiness to approve this plan in principle. Further efforts had been made to diversify the Centre's sources of funds. Producing the budget forecasts for next year has been rendered more difficult by the need to envisage the effects during 1999 of an unforeseen retrospective increase in the salary scales of staff in the General Services category, inflation and increases in remuneration arising from changes in grade. These additional charges would amount to some US$750,000 and would have to be covered through the generation by the Centre of new activities to yield more than US$1,800,000. Lastly, the Director recalled that these results and satisfactory trends proved that the three lines chosen for the Centre's first Development Plan in 1989, namely integration with the ILO, opening out to the United Nations system and network initiatives in conjunction with other training agencies, had proved to be sound and had been well followed. They had allowed the necessary transformation and modernization of the Centre, which must continue.
5. Mr. Alfieri, representing the City of Turin, joined the Director in hoping that a new form of collaboration between the City and the Centre could be developed. The City had thus established a permanent structure to support the Centre's activities, and was about to set up an office in the Centre itself to promote Turin, especially its cultural activities. This new service formed part of the international promotion of the city. In return, the City of Turin hoped that experts from the Centre would play a greater part in its own training initiatives. This new collaboration would be formalized in an agreement signed by the two parties. He recalled that the City of Turin intended to continue to provide financial support for projects for the renovation of the Centre. The Centre's recent developments would be of great assistance to the City in the attainment of the objectives of its next strategic plan, which sought to make Turin "the capital of knowledge and know-how". In conclusion, he hoped the Centre would continue to share its experience with local training agencies.
6. The Chairman thanked the City of Turin for its support and its confidence in the Centre.
7. The representative of the External Auditor stated that the audit process was designed to provide an impartial scrutiny of the Centre and to contribute constructively to the Centre's activities and financial stewardship. The 1997 Financial Statements properly presented the financial situation of the Centre and the results for the year in question. As regards the follow-up action taken by the Centre on the recommendations made in 1996, the points covered were: the management information system, uncommitted expenditure, campus accommodation and fixed assets. He noted that the Centre had prepared a detailed management information system implementation plan and that the level of resources needed had been assessed, that the Centre had taken very effective action to ensure that the staff complied rigorously with the financial rules and regulations concerning the committing of expenditure, that the Centre continued to address the problem of the under-utilization of the Campus facilities at certain times of the year, that the Centre had streamlined the administration of the individual fellowship activity and that the Centre had carried out a full physical inspection of its fixed assets with satisfactory results. Concerning 1997, he pointed out that the overall financial position of the Centre remained sound. He recommended that the Centre reduce the average time required to raise invoices by fixing and monitoring appropriate targets, that the procedures dating back to 1986 concerning follow-up on unpaid invoices should be updated and that the systems should be upgraded to improve the monitoring of unpaid invoices. He further suggested that the Centre negotiate advance payments with sponsors where appropriate. He congratulated the Centre on producing high quality financial statements and stated that he greatly valued the open cooperation and consideration extended by the Director, the Deputy Director and members of the staff, with whom he continued to enjoy an effective and productive working relationship.
8. The Employer Vice-Chairman complimented the Chairman on his support and for the financial backing granted by the ILO to the Centre's activities. He also expressed his gratitude to the Director of the Centre and declared that he was satisfied with the general increase in its activities, the level of participation on the part of women and the implementation of the ILO's priorities. He warmly thanked the Italian government, the Region of Piedmont and the City of Turin for their support and was pleased to note the diversification of the Centre's sources of funds undertaken by its management. The increased participation rendered possible by the holding of more courses in the field was a positive step forward, as was the reduction in the cost of training achieved by shortening its length. He was pleased to note the good progress of the second Development Plan and the greater participation of enterprises in the programmes, and urged the Director to pursue the Centre's evaluation and follow-up initiatives. His group reiterated its wish to have a representative of ACT/EMP at the Centre, and he suggested that services to SMEs should be augmented. He stressed that SMEs were a primordial factor in job creation, especially within the compass of structural adjustment programmes. He emphasized the need for the Centre to continue to improve the quality of its programmes and was pleased to note the success of the United Nations Staff College Project, which had helped to enhance the Centre's image.
9. The Worker Vice-Chairman congratulated the Centre on the results it had achieved in 1997 and its forecasts for 1998. Introduction of new technology and the implementation of tailor-made programmes representing 60% of the Centre's activities were positive steps. He hoped the Centre would update its training modules and that the pertinence of its activities would be permanently validated in relation to the ILO's mandate. Several points deserved further reflection. First, strengthening of the links with the ILO's technical programmes must be pursued systematically and within an institutional framework; bipartite and tripartite activities deserve particular attention, and the Board could give thought to the establishment of a quantitative target for the participation of workers in the Centre's programmes; lastly, joint meetings of the Management Training Committee and the Trade Union Training Committee would allow both definition of the participation of workers in the Centre's activities and analysis of improvements to be made in the operation of the committees themselves. The Workers' group appreciated the Centre's policy of cooperating with top-level training agencies. It also considered that the Staff College, even though it was an independent structure, was an excellent means for promoting the ILO's approaches and methods within the United Nations system. In this connection, the Worker Vice-Chairman suggested that collaboration with the Staff College Project would allow the participation of workers in its programmes, principally those of interest to the world of labour and those concerning human rights. He also suggested that the accounts of the Staff College Project should be separately submitted to the Board for information. As for the staff, he felt that a discussion of staff policy and management would be appropriate. With regard to the Centre's infrastructures, he noted that services provided to course participants should be monitored and continuously upgraded. He took note of the financial surplus for 1997 and expressed his satisfaction with regard to the decrease in bad and doubtful debts. He drew the attention of the management to the recommendations of the External Auditor concerning the information system, the spreading of activities over the course of the year and reduction of credit collection times. He noted that 1998 would be a year of consolidation rather than growth. He stressed the need to give the highest priority to the quality and pertinence of training, and encouraged the use of distance learning as well as its evaluation.
10. The representative of the Government of Poland expressed his satisfaction with the growth of the Centre's activities in 1997, together with its positive financial results. The trends for the current year directed to the quantitative and qualitative development of the Centre's training activities seemed to be equally encouraging. He was none the less concerned to note the drop in the number of participants from central and eastern Europe, whereas the total number of participants continued to increase. He observed that the decrease in activities for non-EU countries was primarily due to financial factors. He stressed the fact that countries that were candidates for accession to the Union were faced with particular needs to adapt their institutions and their legislation. He also pointed that whereas the nature of countries in the process of transition might change, their need for assistance remained. He recommended that an initiative embracing the candidate countries and designed to strengthen the participation of the social partners in the integration process should be launched in close collaboration with the European Union. He repeated his call for reinforcement of the network of cooperation with similar agencies, along with Poland's offer to use its own training structures, which had already been hosting activities for countries in this region in conjunction with the Centre for a number of years. With regard to training areas, he hoped that a particular effort would be made to prepare programmes for social integration and industrial relations. Further integration with the ILO's technical departments and the regional structures was a positive step in this direction. The two strategic objectives for 1998 and 1999, namely the creation of new technical units and quality policies, met the needs of the central and eastern European countries. He concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that the next session of the International Labour Conference would serve to strengthen technical cooperation and hence the activities of the Centre.
11. The representative of the Government of Italy noted that after a period of strong growth the Centre had consolidated and stabilized the results achieved over the last few years by giving priority to quality. He noted that the Centre had continued to meet the needs of participants, and to encourage the use of new technology and the development of new forms of training, especially distance learning. The Italian Government acknowledged the results and approved of the developments chosen by the Centre, particularly the broadening of its range of activities, its increased cooperation with other institutions, and its pursuit of integration with ILO activities. The Italian Government paid particular attention to the programmes concerning women, children, workers and SMEs, and was pleased to see some of these subjects included in Staff College activities. The synergy achieved between the activities conducted by the ILO and the Centre, including the Staff College, had already yielded noteworthy results. The support from the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Staff College project and the interest shown by the UN system were encouraging. The Government of Italy awaited with interest the outcome of the initiatives that the new director of the Staff College project would propose with a view to developing its activities. The Italian Government confirmed its financial support for the United Nations Staff College project, which was part of its overall contribution to the Turin Centre, which was and must remain the strategic base for future development of the project. Italy was active to support the Centre not only at the national level, but also at the regional and municipal levels and in conjunction with the Universities of Bologna and Turin, the Don Gnocchi Foundation and others. The Italian Government was pleased with the agreement reached between Milan's Bocconi University and the Staff College. It congratulated the Director on the clarity of his report. However, he requested further information on the mid-term evaluation of the Staff College Project, mentioned in paragraph 124. In conclusion, the accounts presented meant that the Centre's future could be regarded with optimism. Italy reaffirmed its full support for the Centre.
12. Mr. de Arbeloa (Employer, Venezuela) congratulated the Director on his excellent report. As regards Latin America, strengthening cooperation with the multidisciplinary teams and the activities organized in the field were important matters, in which context he appealed for greater participation by the countries of Latin America. He expressed his deep gratitude to the Italian Government and to Ambassador Cavaglieri for their constant support, and he urged the governments of developed countries to increase their support. He proposed that more means be devoted to enterprises, and he approved of the programmes in support of privatization processes and social security reform. He was encouraged by the extension of the network of institutions cooperating with the Centre and was pleased with the relations established with the ILO's ENTREPRISE department. The Employers' group had closely followed the project financed by the Flemish Community of Belgium on behalf of SMEs in Chile, and suggested that this activity be extended to the other countries of Latin America. It endorsed the Centre's efforts to promote a better social dialogue, and he recalled the Employers' group's commitment to tripartism, which should remain at the heart of the Centre's activities. Concerning publications, he drew attention to the importance of matching allocations with needs. He expressed concern over the weak participation by certain countries, for whom he invited the Director to seek new funds. Greater attention should given to equitable geographical distribution in selecting participants. He reiterated his full endorsement of the Director's report and was pleased with the very positive relations established with ACT/EMP, whose means he would like to see strengthened. In conclusion, he called on the Board and the management of the Centre to consider the aid requirements of the Central American countries facing the catastrophic consequences of the recent hurricane.
13. Mr. Lettieri (Worker, Italy) highlighted the fundamental role of tripartism as a regulator in the context of a globalized economy, as a modus operandi and as a training focus in a world characterized by exclusion, growing inequality and the breakdown of social relations. He suggested that the Turin Centre devote more space to economic analysis in its programmes and that tripartism become the Centre's priority. He also called for intensified cooperation with universities, such as Bologna University, in this field.
14. The representative of the Government of Egypt thanked the Director of the Centre for his exhaustive report. The number of participants and activities scheduled for 1998 was close to that for 1997. She was worried by the fact that the Centre seemed to have reached its maximum capacity. She congratulated the Centre on its use of new technology and on setting up a distance learning programme. She would like the United Nations to have more and more systematic recourse to the Centre. She encouraged the Centre to continue its action on behalf of women. As a cost-cutting measure, activities in the field should be given priority, and to cut costs even further, governments were invited to lend experts or second officials to the Centre. She advocated an equitable distribution of resources, possibly with a greater share being allocated to Africa. Institutions such as the UNDP and the World Bank should increase their contributions. She thanked everyone, especially Ambassador Cavaglieri, the Piedmont Region and the City of Turin for their faithful support.
15. The representative of the Government of France regretted that Mr. Chotard was unable to attend the Board and added her congratulations to those already presented to the Director and staff of the Centre for what they had achieved. She stressed that in an institution like the ILO, personnel management had to be exemplary and noted with satisfaction the Centre's efforts to reduce the number of short-term contracts. She supported the Centre's policy on evaluation, which would enable a better assessment of needs and distribution of resources. She stressed that the development of a network of partner institutions, the opening up to the United Nations system and the integration of the Centre's activities with those specified by the Governing Body of the ILO should continue to guide the Centre's development.
16. A representative of the Government of the United States congratulated the Director and those who worked with him on the excellent results achieved by the Centre, and stressed the importance of continuing the training programmes devoted to the fundamental principles of human rights and labour standards. She followed developments in the field of distance training with particular interest and pleasure. She noted with satisfaction that recommendations made at previous sessions regarding assessment had been effectively followed, and thanked the Director for having illustrated his report with concrete examples.
17. Another representative of the Government of the United States thanked the Italian Government for its continued support. He highlighted the importance of the United Nations Staff College Project, which fulfilled important functions in helping to make United Nations agencies more effective in such areas as coordination and the management of humanitarian crises. He was pleased to note the Staff College's efforts to adapt its programmes to the evolving needs of the United Nations system. The United States Government, which was helping to fund this project, hoped that at the end of the initial five-year phase, its mandate could be extended and that, in this perspective, the mandate be evaluated at an appropriate time. This might imply changing the current designation of the "United Nations Staff College Project" to simply the "United Nations Staff College".
18. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (Employer, Italy) congratulated the Director of the Centre on the financial results obtained and also on following the recommendations made by the External Auditor in 1996. The healthy financial state of the Centre was a cause of satisfaction for the Employers' group. Now was a favourable time to implement procedures that would speed up invoicing and debt recovery.
19. Mr. M'Kaissi (Employer, Tunisia) congratulated the Director of the Centre on the quality of the report. He hoped that cooperation between the Centre and ACT/EMP would be intensified and that the trend to organize more activities in the field would continue. He suggested that the Centre support African countries regarding company creation and management, thereby preparing such companies to play a proper role in Africa's economic development. He expressed satisfaction as regards the activities of the SME technical programme, which he hoped would continue to improve the quality and increase the number of its activities and make a special effort on behalf of the Arab countries, and Palestine in particular, bearing in mind their specific regional characteristics. He thanked the Italian Government, the Piedmont Region, the City of Turin and the other bodies which support the Centre for their financial backing.
20. Mr. Dahlan (Employer, Saudi Arabia) thanked the Director for the excellent report submitted to the Board. He called upon the Centre to support the countries of Asia during the crisis they were currently experiencing and hoped that the activities tailored to Arab countries, especially those for employers' organizations and economic operators, would be further developed. He endorsed the new initiatives scheduled for 1998 in the fields of distance training and of enhancing cooperation with universities and research institutions.
21. The Director thanked all those who had expressed satisfaction with results achieved. He stressed that this was due to team work and shared the compliments with all the staff of the Centre. He also thanked those present for the suggestions they had made over the last few years, and which have been very useful in improving the Centre's functioning and in cutting its costs. He acknowledged the valuable support given by the Italian Government, by the Piedmont Region, by the City of Turin, by the Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino, the Cassa di Risparmio di Torino and the Turin Association for the Centre, as well as by the Flemish Community of Belgium, the Walloon Region of Belgium, France, the United States, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Austria and Denmark. He stressed that integration with the ILO was also closely connected with a coordinated and progressively integrated approach by the ILO and the Centre to mobilizing resources, which was facilitated by the responsibilities that he exercised in this relation for the ILO itself in Geneva. New steps towards further integration could be taken in this area, for example when budgets were prepared or through staff mobility. He assured the Employers' group that evaluation efforts would continue and that, if the financial resources were available and if sufficient activities were envisaged, the Centre would set up an ACT/EMP focal point. Since the Second Development Plan and the current Staff College Project were both due to finish at the end of the year 2000, the Director thought that, as the Workers' Vice-Chairman had pointed out to him, before that date considerable thought would have to be given to placing the Centre fully at the service of the ILO and the United Nations system, and to adjusting its functioning and its financing accordingly. He reiterated the Centre's commitment to tripartism. The slight fall in participants from central and eastern Europe was explained both by a significant project funded by the World Bank having reached its conclusion and by the growing difficulty of mobilizing resources. Closer cooperation with recipients to delineate fund-raising strategies and priorities better would allow stronger participation by the countries of that region. Moreover, the efforts to increase the Centre's participation in the PHARE and TACIS programmes, as well as in those of the European Training Foundation for top officials and executives from Eastern Europe would continue. With regard to privatization, he pointed out that there already existed a programme that could usefully be developed for Asia in close cooperation with the Bangkok Office. In conclusion, he promised that the new management team would spare no effort to follow up on the Board's recommendations in a spirit of openness.
22. In closing the discussion, the Chairman thanked Mr. Owuor for his kind words. He recalled that in 1989 he had pointed out to the Director, Mr. Trémeaud, that the ILO would be unable to increase its financial support to the Centre, which should therefore seek alternative means of mobilizing resources. He considered that the results and the projects examined throughout the discussion proved that the message had been understood perfectly. He particularly emphasized the esteem in which he held Mr. Trémeaud and all those who worked with him, and congratulated them for all they had achieved over the last ten years.
23. The Board approved paragraph 95 and the budget proposals of the Centre for 1999, summarized in paragraph 27 and in the synopsis presented in the table in Information Annex I of document CC 60/2 "Report on the implementation of the programme and budget for the current financial year (1998) and programme and budget proposals for the 1999 financial year". It also took note of documents CC 60/1; CC 60/1/Add.1; CC 60/1/Add.2; CC 60/1/Add.3 and CC 60/2/Add.1.
Reports of the Management Training Committee
and the Trade Union Training Committee
(Third item on the agenda)
24. The Chairman called upon the representatives of the Management Training Committee and the Trade Union Training Committee to present the reports of their meetings to the members of the Board.
25. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi, representative of the Management Training Committee, drew the Board's attention to several paragraphs in the report. The evaluation and follow up on participants had yielded encouraging results. This important initiative was one to pursue. The Committee welcomed the increased participation by women in the programmes, and the higher number of sponsors. She stressed the importance of the intercultural exchanges between participants. The Centre's resources should be allocated more equitably in favour of programmes which supported employers' organizations. In conclusion, she wished to see employers participating more in the Centre's activities and, above all, activities linked to SME development being given higher priority.
26. Mr. Agyei, representative of the Trade Union Training Committee, thanked the staff of ACTRAV and invited the Board to read the Committee's conclusions. In addition, he suggested that the Committee's composition be reformed, that the enterprise development programmes be made accessible to workers, and that joint meetings between the two committees be considered.
27. The Board took note of documents CC 60/3/a and CC 60/3/b.
(Fourth item on the agenda)
28. In accordance with the usual practice, the Chairman asked the Board to hear a statement by the representative of the Staff Union Committee (the text of the statement is annexed to this report). He also invited the Board to examine documents CC60/4/a "Amendments to the Staff Regulations", CC60/4/b "Proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations" and CC60/4/c "Appointment of the Director of the United Nations Staff College Project".
29. The Board took note of documents CC 60/4/a, CC 60/4/c and approved paragraph 3 of document CC 60/4/b.
(Fifth item on the agenda)
30. The Chairman invited the members of the Board to examine documents CC60/5/a, CC 60/5/b and CC 60/5/c.
31. The Employer Vice-Chairman requested more detailed information on the DELTA project, in particular about its promotion, target groups and content.
32. The Worker Vice-Chairman expressed his support for the distance training initiatives.
33. The Director emphasized that the DELTA project was of paramount importance for the Centre's future and that contacts had already been established with various universities and institutions. He called upon the Director of the Training Department to provide more specific information on the subject.
34. Mr. Lenglet, Director of the Training Department, described the main goals of the DELTA programme, namely to improve the existing training on offer and to ensure participant preparation and follow-up. He pointed out that the Centre already had broad experience of planning and designing training programmes, and that several pilot projects, particularly on flexible training, were being carried out. One example was the DELNET local development project being implemented in Latin America, which made considerable use of distance learning techniques. At present, the DELTA programme and the Centre's other initiatives were directly financed by those who used them. Within a short time the ongoing experiments and the expertise available at the Centre should be brought together into a cohesive programme, and a promotion strategy should be devised that would ensure its future funding.
35. The Board approved paragraph 4 of document CC60/5/b and paragraph 12 of document CC60/5/c, and took note of document CC60/5/a.
36. In accordance with the usual practice, and in view of the very short deadline, the Board conferred on the Chairman a mandate to approve the draft report and submit it to the Governing Body of the ILO in Geneva through its Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee.
Place and date of the next session
(Sixth item on the agenda)
37. The Chairman proposed that the 61st Session of the Board of the Centre should be held in November 1999, if possible before the Governing Body of the ILO. The definitive date would be decided by the Officers of the Board taking into account the other ILO meetings. He thanked the members of the Board for their active participation.
Turin, 6 November 1998.
Statement by the Chairman of the Staff Union
of the International Training Centre of the ILO
in Turin to the Board of the Centre
(6 November 1998)
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this occasion last year, we shared with you some reflections on the evolution of the Centre and the outlook as regards its principal mandate, which is to contribute to the development of the human resources of States Members. At the end of that Board, you issued a specific recommendation on the importance of strengthening the means of assessing the Centre's activities. We considered it interesting and useful to apply that recommendation to the various items in our action programme, which is negotiated with the management, in assessing its results. The essential goal of the action programme proposed by the Staff Union Committee under the mandate conferred upon it in July 1997 is more effective planning, development and management of the Centre's human resources. Allow me to illustrate briefly the outcome of our assessment.
As regards human resources planning, the management assures us that rigorous planning is carried out systematically, whereas the facts reveal exactly the opposite. We willingly acknowledge that planning is a particularly difficult task with regard to the specific activities of the Centre. Clearly, the exponential growth in the Centre's activities without a corresponding increase in regular budget staff does not help matters. But is not any management itself responsible for this?
At the risk of becoming repetitive, we cannot but use each meeting to emphasize that the immediate consequences of this disproportion between activities and human resources are: first, an increasingly unacceptable work overload, whose negative repercussions on both service quality and staff well-being are by no means negligible; and secondly, to cover the shortage of fixed staff, over-frequent and excessive use is made of short-term contracts that are "short-term" only in name, for there are holders of such contracts who have been working at the Centre for over four years. You will no doubt recall that we drew your attention to this matter last year, when we highlighted the worrying tendency to make employment increasingly insecure. Unfortunately, this trend has continued this year, with the few posts filled barely covering the Organization's natural turnover.
After a series of talks which began at the end of the last Board, we officially presented the management with a proposal to cut back on this increasing job insecurity in July 1998. The management's October 1998 counter-proposal consisted essentially in asking the responsible chiefs of income-generating sectors to request the recruitment of new staff in advance and in writing. The increase in activities is not the exclusive responsibility of income-generating sectors. It is primarily the responsibility of the management, though the Board of the Centre, too, has a role. We simply do not believe that this counter-proposal will be able to solve the problem. Nevertheless, we shall spare no effort to achieve a negotiated solution acceptable to all parties by the end of the year. The negotiations so far have led to an outline agreement to implement a pilot project in 1999.
In plain terms, there are 37 short-term contracts, covering more than a quarter of the Centre's entire staff. The Staff Union Committee is proposing that 21 of them be turned into fixed-term contracts, on the basis of pre-determined criteria, principally relevant qualifications and length of service. The management has put forward a list of 19 people, using criteria that are certainly different but which are not clearly acknowledged. Moreover, it fails to include three people working on short-term contracts in the Research and Development unit who appear on the Staff Union Committee's list. This discrimination is even less justifiable in view of the fact that the Research and Development programme, which has been involved with distance training and computer-assisted multi-media training products for years, is the cornerstone of the new programme that the Centre wants to bring on stream in 1999, namely the already famous DELTA programme.
We consider short-term contracts to be a particularly delicate issue, above all because the Centre's practice of issuing them is way out of line with the general mandate of the ILO, whose principal role is to defend workers' rights, a value which is increasingly shared by the international community, and by our host country in particular. We are now counting on your support, for we are convinced that negotiating responsibly will allow further waste of time, energy and money to be avoided, and will simply do justice to the staff concerned.
Furthermore, we also note a tendency to create top posts for external candidates, although they could often usefully be filled by internal staff, as has been done with success in the past. We agree with the management on the need to strengthen the Centre's income-generating sector with highly qualified experts, but, on the other hand, we would point out that these top posts are entirely managerial, to the detriment of the specializations of which we have the greatest need. It goes without saying that this weakens the operational sectors and inflates the payroll, without bringing any certain added value.
As regards human resources development, you will also recall that since the start of our mandate we have been asking the management to take the necessary steps to progress from merely financial/administrative personnel management to integrated management of human resources development. By the latter, we mean the establishment of an operational strategy that starts with an analysis of existing and future competences and that aims to enhance the current human potential through training and career plans linked to performance appraisal.
Our request appeared to have been treated as reasonable and, as a start, a study carried out by an outside consultant put forward a series of recommendations which mostly went in the same direction. But the consultant's recommendations were translated into an incomplete document offering no concrete action, no deadline and, worst of all, no budget. It is legitimate to doubt whether the management has seriously sought a solution, and this strategy of "playing for time" yet again leaves us distraught. The integrated approach that we should like to see in future is based on a tight correlation between identified skills and training plans. It is self-evident that in the absence of such, no training or staff development programme, however important, can adequately meet the Centre's needs.
Staff requirement planning is a fundamental element in human resources management. It should contribute to job security and be made known to staff at all levels, enabling all officials to act on the information received and enhance their skills and/or acquire new ones.
As regards human resources management, last year we carried out a study on working conditions and management style, using a modern technique widely applied in the private sector and already adopted by some United Nations organizations. A questionnaire was distributed to all staff, and the results were brought to the attention of the management so that measures could be taken to remedy the problems revealed. Unhappily, the management did not deem it useful to consider the many points brought up by the staff, and so the problems were not dealt with. We have proposed that this year a new survey be undertaken by the management to find out what has changed since the last survey, but we are sad to say that our suggestion has remained a dead letter.
No-one can fail to appreciate the Director's constant commitment to the development of our Centre, but we believe more concrete and, above all, faster results could be achieved if the Centre were to benefit more continuously from his presence, or that of his Executive Assistant. Too many important documents await decisions that get put off for weeks or months at a time, for reasons that escape us. Whatever the reason, the chain of decision-making power does not seem to be working, and this is perhaps the level at which remedies should be sought.
We have rapidly gone over the main points of our assessment. However, no assessment can be made without a few positive points, and we are pleased also to share with you the scanty successes registered during the year.
First and foremost, we are very happy that the study on human resources development was undertaken and, as we have already told you, the consultant's recommendations coincided with our own vision.
A second cause for satisfaction was that the management took very seriously the inescapable need to carry out a safety and ergonomics study of the Centre's entire premises, on behalf of both staff and participants. The study was then converted into a plan of operations which, thanks to the local authorities, should be put into effect in the short term.
Last but not least, following very protracted negotiations, we have been able to obtain for the staff representatives the resources they need in order to carry out the Staff Union task. It should nevertheless be noted that this agreement does no more than bring us into line with practice that has been in effect at ILO headquarters for several years.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
To conclude, you will agree with us that, despite the efforts made, the results achieved are far from satisfactory. But you may rest assured that we are ready to pursue confidently our dialogue with the management, with a view to reaching, with your support, an acceptable agreement on the series of points presented in 1998.
Thank you for your attention.