Judgment No. 4236
The complaints are dismissed, as are the applications to intervene.
The complainants challenge the results of the comprehensive local salary survey of 2013 for New Delhi, India.
general decision; receivability of the complaint; salary; complaint dismissed
Both in their briefs and in the common rejoinder, the complainants refer to several earlier judgments of the Tribunal, namely Judgments 522, 663, 1618 and 2244 in support of the contention that the complaints are receivable. The Director-General relied on Judgment 3427 in his letter of 5 September 2017 and WHO relies in its pleas on Judgments 3736, 3921 and 3931 to argue the complaints are not receivable. Certainly the contemporary case law of the Tribunal supports the argument of WHO. It is sufficient to refer to Judgment 3931. The circumstances considered in that judgment align almost completely with the circumstances in this matter. The Tribunal said:
“3. [...] The result of the impugned decision was that the salaries of staff who had been recruited before 1 November 2014 would be frozen and staff recruited after that date would receive salaries under a new salary scale. All the complainants were recruited before 1 November 2014. An aspect of the Organization’s argument is that the freezing of salaries results in the continued payment of pre-existing salaries with no injurious effect. However, an argument to the same effect in relation to a salary freeze was rejected by the Tribunal in Judgment 3740, consideration 11. It is unnecessary to repeat the analysis that, with one important qualification, is apt to apply in the present case. The qualification is this. In the case leading to Judgment 3740 the complainants lodged internal appeals against ‘the individual administrative decisions to apply to [each complainant] the statutory decision consisting of the revision of the remuneration of the [General Service category] Staff stationed in Rome’ as reflected in their respective February 2013 pay slips. Challenging a pay slip is an orthodox and accepted mechanism whereby an individual staff member can challenge a general decision as and when it is implemented in a way that affects or is likely to affect that individual staff member.
4. In the present case, the complainants’ causes of action are not based on pay slips. They seek to challenge the general decision embodied in the Administrative Order of 1 October 2014 vide Dossier 2-1 New Delhi. They cannot do so. The distinction between challenging a general decision and challenging the implementation of the general decision as applied to an individual staff member is not a barren technical point to frustrate individual staff members from pursuing their rights or protecting their interests. It is a distinction rooted in the nature and extent of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal conferred by the Tribunal’s Statute. The Tribunal must act within the limits established by the Statute. There are many statements in the Tribunal’s case law about the nature of this jurisdiction and its limits. One example of a comparatively recent discussion of those limits and how they arise from the Statute is found in Judgment 3642, consideration 11. As the Tribunal observed in Judgment 3760, consideration 6: ‘[t]he jurisdiction of the Tribunal is, under the Statute construed as a whole, concerned with the vindication or enforcement of individual rights (see, for example, Judgment 3642, under 11).’”
It bears repeating that the need to challenge an individual decision is not a barren technical point to frustrate individual staff members from pursuing their rights or protecting their interests but rather arises from the nature of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. For example, in the present case, the relief the complainants seek includes setting aside the decision of the Director-General dated 5 September 2017 and rescinding the results of the 2013 salary survey as announced in the email of 7 October 2014. But orders of this type would apply to all staff affected by both the decision of 5 September 2017 and the email of 7 October 2014 irrespective of whether those staff agreed to or supported that outcome.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 522, 663, 1618, 2244, 3427, 3642, 3736, 3740, 3760, 3921, 3931
general decision; receivability of the complaint; cause of action; salary