Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee
FOURTH ITEM ON THE AGENDA
International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin
Report on the 61st Session of the Board of the Centre
(Geneva, 3 November 1999)
1. The Chairperson, Mr. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO, welcomed the members of the Board, particularly those participating for the first time following the changes in the membership of the Governing Body of the ILO. He also emphasized the significance of continuity, a key element in managing the Centre, that was ensured by Board members with greater experience of the Centre. He pointed out that he was chairing this Board for the first time and that, after taking up his duties, he had already had the opportunity to familiarize himself with the Centre's activities during two visits to Turin. The first took place when the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) visited Turin in July 1999. This highlighted the Centre's utility for the United Nations system as a whole. On a second visit, on 25 October 1999, he had the chance to get to know the Centre's workings and programme of activities better. He was happy to be able to share his enthusiasm for the programmes implemented and assured the Director of his firm intention to strengthen the bonds between the Office and the Centre so as to reinforce the cohesion of the actions taken by the ILO, in Geneva, in the field and in Turin. He expressed his pleasure in chairing this session and in making public his positive judgement of the Centre. He informed the members of the Board that this session was being held in Geneva because it coincided with the follow-up meeting to the World Summit for Social Development and with the Enterprise Forum. He announced that the next session would certainly be held in Turin. He expressed the regrets of Mr. Porro, Chairperson of the Turin Association for the Centre, and of the Minister and Chairperson of the Flemish Community of Belgium, who reiterated their support for the Centre despite the fact that they were unable to attend the proceedings of the Board. The Chairperson noted the new composition of the Governing Body of the ILO in place until July 2001, and accordingly invited the Government group, the Employers' group and the Workers' group to nominate their Vice-Chairpersons.
First item on the agenda
Election of the Vice-Chairpersons of the board
2. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (spokesperson for the Employers' group) thanked the Chairperson for his particularly positive assessment of the Turin Centre and informed the Board that Mr. Owuor, who had long experience of the Centre's activities, had been appointed Vice-Chairperson by the Employers' group.
3. Mr. Agyei, (spokesperson for the Workers' group) added his thanks to those expressed by the Employers' group and informed the Board that Mr. Rampak had been appointed Vice-Chairperson by the Workers' group.
4. The representative of the Government of Malaysia informed the Board that the Government group had appointed Mr. Zhang Jungfeng, the representative of the Government of China, as its Vice-Chairperson.
5. The Chairperson took note of the appointment of the Vice-Chairpersons and stated that under article III, paragraph 5 of the Statute of the Centre, the Officers of the Board consisted of the Chairperson, the three Vice-Chairpersons, the representative of the Government of Italy and the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in addition to the Director of the Centre. He reiterated the rules of procedure of the Officers of the Board, particularly the decision adopted during the 54th Session (May 1993) of the Governing Body of the ILO allowing authority to take decisions in its name to be delegated to the Officers of the Board whenever the Officers deemed it suitable in the interest of good management of the Centre. He stressed the importance of the constant support which Italy gave to the Centre, thus demonstrating its commitment to the ILO and the United Nations system. This support was expressed by the Government, Employers and Workers, the Piedmont Region and the City of Turin. The Chairperson confirmed his wish to develop the international dimension of the Centre so as to increase its capacity to carry out major projects within the framework of the ILO and the United Nations system.
Second and third items on the agenda
Director's report on the activities of the Centre in 1998
Report on the implementation of the Programme and Budget
for the current financial year (1999), and
Programme and budget proposals for the 2000 financial year
6. After thanking the Chairperson, the Director pointed out that the Centre's activities had been consolidated in 1998 and 1999. As regards the current year, the number of activities had continued to rise, particularly those conducted in the field. He mentioned the fall in the number of individual fellowships and the fact that for the first time the Centre had kept a record of the number of participants undertaking distance training. The volume of activities, as indicated by the number of participant/days, was also rising and, in 1999, would reach an exceptional level, due essentially to the activities financed by the European Social Fund. The Director noted with satisfaction that the proportion of women among participants had risen from 30 per cent in 1994 to 40 per cent in 1999, which was close to parity. Sources of income had also developed favourably. The proportion of ILO and Italian Government funding was falling, while income generated by activities from other sources continued to rise. The Director pointed out that there had been no significant increase in the Centre's staff over the last five years. The number of activities had therefore been increased thanks to a significant productivity drive and an increase in the volume of work of the staff, which had now, in certain cases, reached critical levels that must not be exceeded. He noted that 60 per cent of the Centre's activities related to subjects in the ILO's core mandate, 16 per cent concerned training methods and technology and 10 per cent concerned the management of procurement and technical cooperation projects. As a result, 86 per cent of the Centre's activities related to priority ILO action areas, while the Staff College project accounted for the remaining 14 per cent. As regards the geographic spread of programmes, Africa remained the primary beneficiary with 22 per cent of activities. In this regard, the Centre was pursuing its efforts to enable Africa to continue to benefit substantially from the activities it suggested. Europe represented 20 per cent for European Union projects and 8 per cent for central and eastern European projects, respectively. Asia and the Pacific represented 18 per cent of activities, Latin America 14 per cent and the Arab States 10 per cent. The Director highlighted the systematic efforts to carry out tripartite activities (workers, employers and governments). In 1998 and 1999, the Centre organized tripartite activities and established a fund made up of resources from Italy and Ireland that financed 15 fellowships for representatives of workers' and employers' groups in 1999. This fund would double in 2000. In addition, he welcomed the development of partnerships concluded by the Centre with training institutions in the various regions and also stressed that links had been intensified with multilateral donors such as the European Union and the World Bank, and also with bilateral donors. He took pleasure in noting the increase in activities financed by the beneficiaries themselves. This involved in particular Benin, Botswana and Mozambique in Africa, Argentina and Brazil in Latin America, China in Asia, the Russian Federation in Europe, and Egypt and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in the Arab States. The Director said that the US$970,000 allocated to funding the second Development Plan had allowed the actions planned to be brought to fruition to a large extent. It had therefore been possible to implement new programmes in the area of employment and training policies, industrial relations, international labour standards, human rights, and social security. The realignment of the Training Department was proceeding, marked particularly by a development of the technical programmes. Experience in quality management gained within the Latin America programme had made it possible to define a range of improvements that would be gradually and systematically put into practice. In addition, the introduction from 1 January 2000 of the computerized activity management system would make it possible to improve the Centre's cost/efficiency ratio. Moreover, the work done in 1998 and 1999 in the area of assessment continued. Procedures were currently being standardized and the impact studies would be reinforced so as to provide the necessary lessons for devising future activities. The Centre was making increasing use of new technology: a second computer laboratory had been set up, the Internet site was developing, videoconferencing was continuing and distance training had been applied in seven major programmes. These activities as a whole were being regrouped into the DELTA programme, the head of which was currently being recruited. Training support services (multimedia publications, development and production of teaching materials) were also expanding. As regards improving the campus, two pavilions had been renovated. The first was to be used for distance training and the second for the UNICRI. In 1998, the Staff College project had assessed its achievements and laid down the priority guidelines for concentrating its activities in the service of the United Nations system. This project had received support from several sponsors and broadened its cooperation network with the other United Nations institutions and external partners. As to the budget, the Director pointed out that at the beginning of the second half-year, the Centre had suffered a significant exchange rate loss of US$686,000 when the Italian Government paid its contribution. This required a postponement of planned investments so that financial balance could be achieved in 1999. The budget forecast for the year 2000 included a rise due essentially to a payroll growth of around US$700,000 which would make it necessary to earn more than US$2 million from supplementary activities. In conclusion, the Director reported that the most significant indicators for the Centre were satisfactory and that the outlook for the future was encouraging, especially given the new prospects for greater cooperation with the ILO delineated by the Chairperson.
7. In presenting his report, the representative of the External Auditor explained that the audit had been carried out in accordance with articles 25 and 28 of the Financial Regulations of the Centre and the common accounting standards of the United Nations Panel of External Auditors. The audit of the financial statements showed that expenditure in 1998 had been incurred for the purposes approved by the Board, that income and expenditure had been recorded in accordance with the Centre's financial rules, and that the financial statements presented a true and fair view of the financial position as at 31 December 1998. He was therefore happy to announce that no error or omission had been detected and that consequently the financial statements for 1998 had been unreservedly endorsed by the External Auditor. The results of the audit of financial procedures and internal controls were included in the report before the Board. The audit had focused on four points in particular: action taken by the Centre to implement earlier recommendations, the Organization's financial position, procurement procedures and the so-called millennium bug. He drew the Board's attention to the fact that the delays in billing had not been reduced although a new tracking system had been adopted. He acknowledged that there were significant obstacles to getting the necessary information, but invited the Centre to make the efforts needed to overcome these difficulties and ensure that invoices were issued promptly. He confirmed that the financial situation was healthy and that there had been a net surplus of US$448,000 in 1998, US$338,000 of which had been transferred to the Campus Improvement Fund and US$110,000 to the General Reserve. He also drew the Board's attention to the significant increase in the value of accounts receivable over recent years, which indicated that the Centre had been taking longer to collect its income, with a resulting fall in cash reserves at the end of 1998. The auditors had been monitoring the position closely, however, and noted that the cash reserves had increased to US$8.3 million at the end of September 1999 from US$4.6 million at the end of December 1998. To mitigate the risks of adverse cash flow and currency exchange variations, he recommended that the Centre agree appropriate payment schedules with its sponsors. He was pleased to record that, as recommended by the External Auditor, the Board had been asked to review the level of the Working Capital Fund to bring it more into line with the current level of activity. As to procurement, he confirmed that all contracts examined had been subject to competitive bidding in accordance with the Centre's Financial Regulations and Rules. He noted that the cleaning contract was to be put out to bid in 1999 and expressed pleasure in the fact that the Director of the Centre had implemented the recommendations that he had made to enhance the role of the Contracts Committee. He informed the Board that the Centre had checked that all computer systems were year 2000 compliant and noted with satisfaction that the Director of the Centre had established a year 2000 management committee. In closing, he thanked the Director, Deputy Director and all the staff of the Centre for their cooperation during the course of the audit.
8. The representative of the Region of Piedmont, Mr. Goglio, Director of Vocational Training and Labour, pointed out that the Region had been operating at international level for several years. Its action was based on globalization, the repercussions of which were felt at regional level, and increased solidarity with developing countries. He said that the Piedmont Region's external policy involved supporting Piedmont traders wishing to develop at international level, encouraging the exchange of experience with local foreign institutions and promoting the Piedmont Region's access to multiple and bilateral financing. The policy was also designed to mitigate the effects of migratory flows and support the internationalization of SMEs. The Region of Piedmont had established certain priority action areas, and cooperation with the ILO Centre was a key aspect of its internationalization policy. The Region reiterated its commitment to supporting the Centre's role as an agent of economic, social and cultural development and would like to intensify its cooperation with the Centre in particular areas such as training local authority staff and Piedmont traders and to improve coordination between its own action and that of the Centre. The current forms of this cooperation had been laid down by a triennial regional law providing funding for specific activities, particularly the Staff College project. In this respect, the regional administration was currently examining a bill that would allow it to frame its action with the Centre within a global context of unlimited duration. This initiative bore witness to the importance of the ILO Centre to Piedmont.
9. Mr. Torresin, Councillor responsible for labour, expressed the satisfaction of the City of Turin with respect to the Centre's activities. As to the process of globalization, he underscored the Centre's major role in training in the areas of enterprise creation, social dialogue and human resources, sectors in which Italy had gained significant experience. He reaffirmed the importance of training as a tool for combating child labour and all forms of discrimination and called for increased cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe. The City of Turin reiterated its support for the Centre's programmes and confirmed its financial support for enhancing its technical and accommodation facilities. The Municipality had taken responsibility for transferring the UNICRI to Turin, contributed to funding cooperation programmes with the cities of Gaza and Quetzaltenango and opened a cultural information desk at the Centre. He would like possibilities for cooperation with the Centre to be examined in the area of water resource management projects for the Mediterranean basin and endorsed the general drive to integrate the Centre's programmes with those of the ILO. As regards improving the campus, he confirmed the City's commitment to financing a triennial upgrading plan amounting to 2.1 billion lira and a functional renovation plan for the Centre to the value of 20 billion lira. These actions would begin in 2000, once the procedural obstacles had been overcome.
10. The representative of the Government of Italy thanked the Director-General for his assessment of the work carried out in Turin and for Italian support of the ILO and the Centre. He complimented the Director and his colleagues for the quality of the report on the activities and expressed the appreciation of the Italian Government for the work which had brought about constant progress in programmes and the number of participants. He was particularly pleased to note the increase in the participation of women and the growing cooperation with the central and regional bodies of the ILO, which enhanced its operating capacity. The expansion of activities for SMEs and the development of training systems in harmony with European Union and Italian Government policies was positive. He was pleased to see that the use of new technology had expanded, making it possible to respond to the evolution of training needs, and that activities in the field had intensified. He was pleased to note the role played by the Centre in combating child labour, a role for which Italy provided technical and financial support. In order to respond to the increase in the volume of activity without increasing the Centre's budget, he proposed that measures be introduced to expand the internal flexibility of work, broaden the community of sponsors and ensure closer cooperation with local institutions. He reiterated Italy's support for the Staff College project and advocated an increase in funding from the United Nations system. He expressed his satisfaction with the situation of the Centre's activities and accounts, which had been achieved through sound and transparent management. He assured the Director-General of the ILO of the Italian Government and society's determination to sustain the development of the Turin Centre and pledged his full support for reforming the ILO.
11. The Chairperson thanked the representatives of the Piedmont Region, the City of Turin and the Government of Italy for their support.
12. The Employer Vice-Chairperson welcomed the new Chairperson and thanked him for attending the Board during the follow-up meeting of the World Summit for Social Development, of which he was an originator, thus showing his interest in the Centre. He assured the Director-General of the ILO that the Employers' group supported the reformation of the ILO and the redefinition of its mandate. He congratulated the Vice-Chairpersons of the Government and Workers' groups on their election and thanked the Director for the work carried out by the Centre. He hoped that the Centre would pursue its efforts to ensure that its programmes developed and thanked the Italian Government for its support. He expressed his satisfaction with the policy of diversifying sources of funds put into effect by the Director. He reiterated his group's support for the Turin Centre and said that he was satisfied with the programmes carried out in the area of international labour standards and human rights, social security, employment and social dialogue. He hoped the report on the Centre's activities would, in future, specifically mention the programmes implemented in favour of employers' organizations, who, together with governments and workers, played a leading role in the action of the Centre. He reiterated the wish of the Employers' group to see created a technical unit to benefit employers' organizations, whose essential task would be to conceive, seek funds for and implement specific training programmes for employers' organizations. An ILO contribution to the funding of a post for this purpose would make it possible to attract supplementary sources of finance. As to the financial report, he supported the comments of the External Auditor's representative and endorsed his recommendations to reduce the time for raising invoices and recovering debts. He emphasized the need to strengthen compatibility between the Centre's procedures and those of the ILO. He noted the important cooperation provided by the Workers' group for social security programmes and said that employers also had an important contribution to make in this area. He hoped that the employers' participation in these programmes would be reinforced.
13. The Worker Vice-Chairperson welcomed the Director-General, who was chairing the Board of the Centre for the first time, and noted with interest his recent visits to the Centre, while stressing the strategic implications of training in the overall activities of the ILO. He believed that this could lead the Centre to play a new role within the ILO and proposed that the Chairperson visit the Centre with the Officers of the Board in order to discuss further how the new structure of the Centre could support the implementation of the Strategic Objectives of the ILO. He took the opportunity to thank Mr. Agyei, spokesperson for the Workers' group, for the important work he had carried out over the last few years. The Centre had gone and was still going through a series of changes and the Workers' group commended the willingness of the management to modernize this structure and provide new answers to the new challenges ahead for the ILO and its constituents. Regarding activities, he asked the Director whether the number and volume of activities had reached an optimal plateau or whether there was still some scope for improvements. He went on to enumerate four factors to take into consideration. First, the growing proportion of activities taking place in the field. Although this growth was a positive development, we should not forget the importance of the added value provided by training in Turin. Second, the growing decentralization of resources, which often led to great differences among regions and in gender participation. Third, the presence in the ILO Turin Centre of a UN agency (UNICRI) and the Staff College. Fourth, the delivery of bi/tripartite activities in order better to serve ILO constituents and the participation of workers in general training courses. As regards the first factor, the Centre should pay attention not only to improving its infrastructure and the quality of programmes offered on campus, but should also design training that draws on new technology and which is delivered and administered at the Centre. Within this perspective, one important aspect of the Centre's strategy is the implementation of the DELTA programme, which the Workers' group strongly supported. It shared the view of the Auditor's report on that programme and would like to know what had already been done. Regarding decentralization of resources, the Workers' group called for a careful scrutiny of the programmes financed by private agencies or by multilateral or bilateral donors to ensure that ILO values would always be reflected in all the Centre's activities. The Workers' group pressed for a better representation of women in the activities and stressed the need for gender mainstreaming in all programmes. On that particular point, he wished to know whether the three major workshops in the field of gender issues had been implemented. For its part, a decentralized approach must also be balanced by a renewed and stronger link between Turin and ILO headquarters and different departments in order to foster integration of staff policy between Turin and Geneva. The other aspect to be highlighted was the new dimension of the Centre within the UN family. The Workers' group would like the management to provide updated details on the transfer of the UNICRI and on the situation of the Staff College project. It believed there was scope for better synergy between the Centre and the Staff College. Although the setting up of the Staff College and the UNICRI on the campus was a positive development, it should not affect the institutional framework of the ILO Turin Centre, which should remain a tripartite institution. The Workers' group wanted to emphasize that the ILO must remain central in the management of the whole institutional structure and that the Centre is the training arm of the ILO and this position should be strengthened with further integration at all levels. One last consideration regarded the coherence of the Centre's programmes with the ILO mandate and the strengthening of programmes for the constituents. Certain general programmes, for example that on "competitiveness in the informal sector" or training at managerial level conducted without the inclusion of industrial relations as a topic, still seemed to bear too narrow an approach. He further remarked that the participation of workers in bi/tripartite activities as well as in general activities of the Centre had fallen from 9 per cent in 1996 to 6.5 per cent in 1998. Lastly, in examining the Centre's potential new role within the Organization, he hoped that all due attention would be paid to the document which the Workers' group had submitted to the Director-General in April 1999.
14. Documents CC61/2/Add.1 and CC61/2/Add.2 called for several comments. The Workers' group first of all took note of the staff movements and welcomed the newly recruited personnel and the slight rise in indeterminate contracts, essential to the success of the Centre. The Workers' group, however, would welcome clarification on the staff training programme and career development, as well as the criteria for awarding merit steps. It would also welcome a comprehensive review of the grades of the technical managers and would like to know from the management what steps would be taken to reclassify those positions. Finally, it would also be useful to provide the Board with more details about the long-term training projects linked to the 24 officials whose fixed-term contracts are not included in the final synopsis. As regards the report on the General Administration of the Centre, the Workers' group would like to receive information on the transfer of the UNICRI and its legal position in the ILO Turin Centre as well as on the renovations mentioned in point 6 and the policy of making available the Centre's facilities to external institutions. On that point, the Board should be provided with a detailed list of such institutions. Concerning the financial statements and the Auditor's report, the Workers' group noted the satisfactory overall financial situation for 1998 but would like to receive clarification on certain points, notably the shortfall in individual fellowships and advisory services, the delays in raising invoices and in the implementation of an automated debtor management system. With regard to the latter, the Workers' group would like to know if an automated debtor management system had already been implemented and, if so, which system had been chosen and if it was compatible with ILO headquarters. Furthermore, the Workers' group supported the Auditor's recommendation to strengthen the role of the Contracts Committee in examining procurement procedures. It would also like to ask whether the recommended Committees on Accountability and on the year 2000 had been established. Finally, it reiterated its request for monitoring the management of the travel agency and other services provided by external contractors. It also shared the concern of the Auditor for the persistent over-estimation of travel and subsistence costs linked to training activities. After examining document CC61/3 on the Programme and Budget for 1999 and on the Programme and Budget proposals for the 2000 financial year, the Workers' group welcomed the current effort to increase the number of bi/tripartite activities and to improve the participation of workers' representatives in the Centre's general courses. Similarly, it would also like to receive information on the creation of the technical programme on labour relations and social dialogue and on the follow-up to the Declaration. In this regard, it had noticed that the programmes for Africa and the Arab States included no mention of programmes on freedom of association or collective bargaining. It believed that the promotional activities (even those relating to creation of employment or SMEs) should always encompass a reference to all core labour standards. The Workers' group praised the strategic programme of the European Commission on monitoring EU employment and social policy. Such a programme would enable the ILO to convey its values to the EU. The Workers' group believed that similar activities should be carried out with the Bretton Woods institutions.
15. The representative of the Government of India congratulated the Director on the quality of the report on the activities of the Centre and on the programmes conducted in 1998. He supported the creation of the new technical programmes and the Centre's quality management policy. He expressed his thanks to the Government of Italy, the Piedmont Region and the City of Turin for their constant support. He said he was satisfied with the Centre's spheres of action, particularly SME development, international labour standards and the battle against child labour. He emphasized the excellent cooperation the Centre had established with several local institutions in India operating in the labour market sphere. He confirmed the Indian Government's interest in developing these partnerships and hoped that they would be extended to the SME sector. He welcomed the Centre's participation in initiatives in favour of employment in the urban informal sector and in the programme to combat child labour, supported in particular by Italy. He thanked the Director for the positive measures that had been taken to meet the recommendations of the Government group.
16. The representative of the Government of Malaysia expressed his satisfaction to the Director and his team regarding the excellent report presented on the activities of the Centre. He supported the strategic approach implemented by the Director-General of the ILO, and hoped the policy of enhancing the cohesiveness of the activities of both the ILO and the Centre would be implemented in full. He stressed the importance of the developments foreseeable in the coming millennium when programming the Centre's activities. He expressed his satisfaction with the training programmes offered to more than 1,000 participants from Asia, and he hoped this commitment would continue.
17. The representative of the Government of France thanked the Director-General of the ILO and the Director of the Turin Centre for their presentations and for the clarity of the documents submitted to the Board. She appreciated the Centre's dynamism, the development of its activities and their adaptation to the needs of constituents. She noted with satisfaction the institutional partnership with the United Nations agencies and with other partners such as non-governmental organizations, as well as its capacity to mobilize resources. She informed the Board that the Government of France had decided to increase its contribution to the Centre by 50 per cent this year. The French Government also appreciated the participant follow-up activities. She stressed the importance of the independent outside appraisals of the Centre's activities. She would like the Centre's programmes to be more closely integrated with the ILO's activities, especially those following up the ILO Declaration on the fundamental rights of workers.
18. Mr. Anand (Employer member) wanted the situation of the least favoured countries to be taken into account. He suggested that proposals for overcoming their difficulties be worked out and in this connection referred to a number of proposals he had made. He was happy that the Turin Centre was a modern institution with a long-term future. He pointed out that the principles emerging from the Social Summit in Copenhagen in regard to groundwork like vocational training facilities and linkages across the continents should be strengthened in the Centre's activities. In addition, the Centre's international dimension and its links with institutions abroad should be accelerated. To conclude, he expressed a wish that, in the future, his group could play a stronger role in supporting the Centre, and hoped that, following the Centre's initiatives, Italian-Indian relations would intensify through proposals in the pipeline.
19. Mr. Wade (Employer member) supported the declarations of the Employers' Vice-Chairperson and endorsed the compliments addressed to the Director for his quality-based approach which met the recommendations made by the Employers' group. He supported the group's demand for the creation of a technical programme for employers. He expressed his satisfaction at Africa's participation in the Centre's activities and noted the increased number of programmes conducted in the field. He recommended the systematic use of existing local and regional employers' organizations' structures as a means of improving the cost-effectiveness ratio.
20. The representative of the Government of Portugal congratulated the Director and his team for the outstanding work accomplished in Turin and for the quality of the report before the Board. He noted with satisfaction how the Centre's activities had achieved perennial status in a competitive market despite the reduction of individual fellowships. He considered that the Staff College project had made it possible to harness synergy within the United Nations. He supported the decentralization of activities, which would make it possible to expand the training offered by the Centre, to intensify transfer of technology and to increase the number of participants. He welcomed the activities held in Portuguese. Regarding appraisal mechanisms, he suggested accelerating the current process that would make it possible to measure the internal and external effectiveness of programmes, the extent to which participants had learnt, and the changes induced, all of which would help consolidate donor support. He was in favour of strengthening cohesion between the Centre's programmes and those of the ILO and their concentration on the ILO mandate.
21. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (Employer member) welcomed the increase in projects organized in beneficiary countries and those conducted on an interregional basis; this met the wishes of the Employers' group. Such decentralization made it possible to meet local needs better. The increase in multi-bilateral funding and in that of the European Union, the attention given to gender issues, SME development and the dissemination of the Centre's training material were positive developments to be strengthened. She supported the drive to increase women's participation, if possible until it achieved parity in the Centre's activities. In this regard, she noted with interest the activity on behalf of women entrepreneurs, especially in terms of access to credit; this was still an important issue for women entrepreneurs in all countries, but particularly in developing countries. She reminded those present that the Turin Centre should pursue its efforts to put the Auditor's recommendations into good effect. She highlighted the programmes financed by the European Social Fund and supported the Centre's priority issues. Lastly, she hoped for a regular strengthening of the social partners' participation in the Centre's programmes, particularly that of employers, to whom more activities should be addressed.
22. Mr. De Arbeloa (Employer member) thanked Mr. Somavia for being present. This was a good illustration of his attachment to the Turin Centre and what it was capable of achieving. He referred to the excellent cooperation the Centre had enjoyed from Ambassador Cavaglieri in the past and hoped that this would be maintained by his successor. He welcomed the report produced by the Director of the Centre, and noted with satisfaction that the Centre had implemented some suggestions made by the Employers' group, although he would have liked more information on employers' activities. Measures should be taken to ensure that employers' needs and objectives were achieved. He expressed his satisfaction with the balanced budget and the Centre's economic and financial position. The search for new donors would guarantee this balance. He hoped that other countries would follow the example of France, the City of Turin, and the Piedmont Region, and he encouraged other States Members to make a contribution. He requested further information on the legal instrument between the Centre and the Piedmont Region. The Centre should maintain its priorities. In particular, it should continue its drive to boost the global level of employment while reducing informal employment. It should equally set out to strengthen tripartism and to promote human rights. He would also have liked further information on course content in the field of international labour standards and the development of enterprise productivity as well as on the quality and the results of the evaluations, especially regarding the training material used. He asked what was being done to incorporate local and regional institutions, private and public universities to maximize results. Moreover, measures should be taken to spread the Centre's activities better throughout the year, to enable optimal use of the campus during quieter periods and to intensify participation of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Centre's activities. In conclusion, he proposed that more time be allocated to the next Board of the Centre, to allow for more active participation.
23. The Vice-Chairperson (Government group) and representative of the Government of China endorsed the remarks made by the Vice-Chairperson of the Employers' group. The ILO Director-General's presence was a clear reflection of his support for the ILO Training Centre. He congratulated the Vice-Chairpersons of the Employers' and Workers' groups on their election and thanked his group colleagues for entrusting him with the responsibility of being Government Vice-Chairperson. The Government group took note of the significant efforts that had been made on behalf of developing countries and asked for the number of participants from those countries to be increased. He urged the governments of developed countries to follow the example of the French and Italian Governments by increasing their contributions. Lastly, he invited the Turin Centre to continue its follow-up studies in beneficiary countries so that it could better identify the needs and contents of training programmes.
24. Ms. Coletti (Worker member) stated that the priority mission of the Centre, the training arm of the ILO, should be to follow up the Declaration on the fundamental rights of workers, and that this should manifest itself in activities implemented within the framework of the four Strategic Objectives. She endorsed the remarks of the members of the Board regarding women's participation in the Centre's programmes and she applauded the near-achievement of parity. She stressed the fact that women's participation, particularly in activities concerning labour standards, was a condition for the success of the Centre's other initiatives.
25. Mr. M'Kaissi (Employer member) thanked the Director-General of the ILO and the Director of the Centre. He expressed satisfaction regarding Africa's part in the Centre's programmes. In response to globalization, which was sharpening competition and forcing companies to restructure, he hoped that the Centre could assist employers' organizations in their efforts to train their staff. He supported the strengthening of cooperation between the Turin Centre, ACT/EMP and the multidisciplinary teams to meet the needs of beneficiary countries. He expressed satisfaction with the increase of programmes in the field. He thanked the Government of Italy, the Piedmont Region, the City of Turin, and the countries and organizations which supported the Centre financially. He congratulated the Director and the staff of the Centre for all they had achieved.
26. Because of time constraints, the Chairperson invited the Director briefly to answer the main questions raised by the Board members. He suggested that, on specific points or points of detail, the Director and his colleagues should provide the information requested afterwards.
27. The Director thanked the Auditor's representative for his report, and his recommendations. The recommendations would be very useful for improving the management of the Centre. He also thanked the representative of the Piedmont Region for the announcement of a regular contribution and the representative of the City of Turin who had announced an agreement in principle to finance the plan to renovate the campus. Concerning the questions about international labour standards, including the core standards, the Director pointed out that whereas there had not been a single activity on the subject before 1992, by 1999, 28 activities had been devoted to it. The fact that more than 60 per cent of the Centre's activities directly related to the ILO's core mandate showed that international labour standards were given considerable attention. Moreover, sessions on the drafting and application of the standards were regularly brought into the Centre's general courses as well as into the activities of the Staff College that dealt with human rights. In addition, distance training on the standards and the Declaration had been designed, and specific activities would be developed during the course of the year 2000. As regards partnership, privileged relations had been established with a range of institutions covering every continent. Concerning gender issues, the Director pointed out that they were being mainstreamed into the Centre's activities as a whole. Each technical programme would have a focal point for gender issues who would be appointed during the year 2000, coordinated by the Training Department. Resources had been allocated to integrate this issue into all the Centre's programmes. About UNICRI's arrival at the Centre, the Director pointed out that the means by which that institution was being established were governed by an agreement approved by the ILO's legal services, which provided that the funds needed for the transfer came from UNICRI's own resources. UNICRI would, moreover, contribute to the Centre's fixed costs. On staff matters, the Director stated that staff training was decided by a joint committee in which the Staff Union participated, and that the vast majority of officials had benefited from training or retraining courses in computing and office equipment management, as well as language courses. Moreover, collective courses as well as individual outside training had been organized, after consulting the Staff Development Committee, to strengthen specific abilities. The Director described the exact nature of the 24 contracts linked to training projects whose duration was tied by the Statutes to the duration of the projects themselves. Regarding the Centre's cooperation with IPEC, he specified that three training programmes for IPEC personnel from the Asia, Latin America and Africa regions had been held. Moreover, new training and information material had been designed on the basis of that ILO programme's needs. Recording the importance and the objectives of the DELTA programme, the Director pointed out that there had been wide-ranging consultation on the content of this programme both with the technical staff of the Centre and with two specialists from the World Bank and from the private sector. These latter had confirmed the correctness of the choices made and the profile required of the programme manager, who was currently being recruited. In addition, at present seven programmes currently used distance training and regularly compared notes. Regarding the total quality exercise, the Centre's programmes applied the recommendations of the experts' report as they were made. Concerning evaluation, the Director remarked on the progress that had been made since the previous report and confirmed the growing importance given to the matter. Not all of the set of procedures had been implemented. The Centre was doing its best to draw the most useful lessons from ongoing experience and to incorporate them into future activities. Regarding activity planning, he specified that the distribution of programmes over the year was largely linked to the funding received. Concerning the number of participants from Asia and from Latin America, the Director described the nature of the difficulties and assured the Board that efforts were being made to overcome them. Lastly, in conclusion, he recalled that the Centre organized activities for employers and that he remained in favour, as he had said on several occasions in the past, of the development of a specific programme and of having a specialist in that field in Turin.
28. The Chairperson regretted that the time allocated to this session of the Board was limited. He invited the Employers' and Workers' Vice-Chairpersons to send the secretariat the written comments that they wished to be incorporated in the Board's report. He invited the Board to give its opinion of the documents submitted to it.
29. Mr. Anand (Employer member) endorsed the Chairperson's remarks on the lack of time devoted to discussion in the Management Committee and reiterated the importance of examining and reviewing the reports and activity proposals of the Centre at the Management Training Committee and the Trade Union Training Committee in more depth.
30. Referring to the examination of the budget for the year 2000, the Employers' Vice-Chairperson reiterated his group's request to the Director to provide for a post for employers' activities.
31. The Director assured the Employers' group that approval of the budget under scrutiny by no means prevented granting the request to create a post for employers' activities.
32. The Board approved paragraph 105 of document CC61/3 "Report on the Implementation of the Programme and Budget for the Current Financial Year (1999) and Programme and Budget Proposals for the Financial Year 2000". It also took note of documents CC61/2; CC61/2/Add.1; CC61/2/Add.2; CC61/2/Add.3 and CC61/3/Add.1.
Fourth item on the agenda
Reports of the Management Training Committee
and of the Trade Union Training Committee
33. The Chairperson invited the representatives of the Management Training Committee and the Trade Union Training Committee to present a synopsis of their reports.
34. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (Employer member) told the Board members that the Employers' group's questions had received exhaustive, in-depth answers from the Centre's Training Department. The content of the Management Training Committee report and its conclusions formed a clear reflection of the Employers' group's interest in the Centre's activities. She noted the firm drive to increase activities on behalf of employers' organizations. The future presence of a specialist in the subject would give them a desirable equilibrium with workers' activities and a further boost.
35. Mr. Agyei (Worker member) expressed his satisfaction with the programmes designed for workers. His group was happy that the new training needs expressed by workers' organizations were being taken into account. In this regard, he recalled that the previous year his group had proposed a joint meeting between the two committees to examine, if possible, the spheres covered by the Management Training Committee. He invited the Director to take steps to convene this meeting. He hoped for more intense contact between the Centre and ACTRAV, on the one hand, and between the Management Training Committee and the Trade Union Training Committee, on the other.
36. The Board took note of documents CC61/4/a and CC61/4/b.
Fifth item on the agenda
37. In accordance with the usual practice, the Chairperson asked the Board to hear a statement by the Chairperson of the Staff Union Committee (the text of the statement is appended to this report) and to examine documents CC61/5/a (Amendments to the Staff Regulations) and CC61/5/b (Proposed Amendments to the Staff Regulations).
38. The Chairperson thanked the staff representative warmly and noted that the quality of his address reflected in an exemplary fashion his personal concern to consider the dialogue with the representatives of the personnel on the Staff Union Committee a central, essential element in the development of the Organization's activities. He remarked that, on his recent visit to Turin, he had been able to meet the staff and the Staff Union Committee and to get to know the central issues raised by Mr. Ceratto. The Chairperson declared that he had asked the ILO Director of Personnel to find an opportune moment to go to Turin and examine the points raised in depth. The Chairperson of the Staff Union Committee's speech had shown a global vision of the institution and its challenges as well as a deep understanding of what a career in the service of the ILO meant. The visit by the ILO Director of Personnel would, moreover, enable useful lessons to be drawn from what the Centre was doing for the Office's human resources policy. He invited the Director to present the documents submitted to the Board.
39. The Director stated that as regards human resources management, a "bilan des compétences"of the staff was in progress, as was the rewriting of job descriptions, and that a new system of performance appraisal and of selection and recruitment was under study. These initiatives were, and would continue to be, the subject of close consultation with the ILO Personnel Department and were in line with the Office's new personnel policy. He presented document CC61/5/a (Amendments to the Staff Regulations) and CC61/5/b (Proposed Amendments to the Staff Regulations), which authorized the Director to amend the Staff Regulations in line with decisions to be taken at the forthcoming General Assembly of the United Nations.
40. The Board took note of document CC61/5/a and approved paragraph 6 of document CC61/5/b.
Sixth item on the agenda
Second Five-year Development Plan: Investments —
New target level of the Working Capital Fund of the Centre
41. The Director informed the Board that it had been impossible to make the investments decided upon at the previous session in accordance with the initial schedule because of the time required for a satisfactory completion of the necessary consultations with the ILO technical departments. It is proposed to reschedule the envisaged investments without modifying the allocation of the amounts. Regarding the point about the level of the Centre's working capital, he added that the decision reached by the Board (document CC61/6/a) met the Auditor's recommendation.
42. The Workers' Vice-Chairperson stated that his group approved the rescheduling of the investment plan until the year 2001. The Centre was facing significant changes, particularly aimed at improving its action on behalf of ILO constituents. As regards priority areas, he welcomed the reinforcement of programmes in the spheres of social dialogue and of occupational safety and health. This last subject should include references to the general problems of the environment.
43. The Board approved paragraph 6 of document CC61/6 and paragraph 6 of document CC61/6/a.
Seventh item on the agenda
Date and place of the next session
44. The Chairperson proposed that the date of the 62nd Session of the Board be decided by the Officers of the Board. He undertook to make sure that the Board had the time necessary for discussion at the next session. He thanked the members for their active participation. He expressed satisfaction at the role played by the Turin Centre and reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen its links with the ILO. His vision of the Centre's future derived from the excellent impression that he had received on his visits to Turin.
Geneva, 3 November 1999.
Statement by the Chairperson of the Staff Union
of the International Training Centre of the ILO
in Turin to the Board of the Centre
(3 November 1999)
It is a great privilege for me to extend the warm greetings of all the personnel of the International Training Centre of the ILO and the UN Staff College project to you, to the Vice-Chairpersons, and to the distinguished members of the Board.
To you, Mr. Chairperson, a special word of gratitude. Your first and recent visit to Turin, taking the organizational pulse of the entire Centre, simply warmed our hearts. You made us feel that we do belong to the same house as one team with one spirit.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My statement as Chair of the Staff Union will cover three aspects:
In these months, we have tried to build on activities carried out by several of our predecessors. As the length of our mandate is finite, for we believe in roving leadership through yearly rotation of this important responsibility, we are acting with a sense of urgency and a bias for results.
As with any human endeavour, this action will be imperfect and incomplete. But hopefully it will reveal our goal of putting people first: our colleagues. They are a multicultural and unique blend of human diversity, talent, and commitment to seeing the whole Centre practise its leadership in international training for the benefit of all its constituent forces.
Let me illustrate some areas where the Staff Union has intervened or is about to intervene.
On 1 October, and after a vote, we subscribed to a collective contract for our 143 members which offers juridical advice and protection for all cases, which fall within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Tribunals of the ILO and the UN. With this, we want to strengthen the knowledge that surrounds the rights and obligations that govern our employment. For many, if not most, delicate situations can be rapidly resolved if the staff is fully aware of its rights, including the right to appeal, and is empowered with this knowledge. Hence, the value of prevention, while also showing that qualified help is available should formal litigation ensue.
Secondly, we have renewed our FICSA membership because we believe that the Federation of International Civil Servants’ Associations remains an important forum in the changes that are affecting the personnel of international organizations. Through FICSA’s network we have then been able to collaborate with our Personnel Department on how to deal with the insidious meanders of psychological and sexual harassment. Again, one of the main purposes is prevention, by asking our staff to identify and isolate this unacceptable behaviour, and by introducing the figure of a mediator, where appropriate. And, we are using the same collaborative network with respect to the eventual recognition of a "paternity leave" for our fathers-to-be (one of them is with us).
Thirdly, we have formally asked that staff mobility between the ILO Turin Centre and the ILO (Geneva and "field") be put again on the agenda in the interest of both, at a time when inter-agency interaction demonstrates the advantages for the individual and organization alike. Here we are actually talking of a sort of intra-agency mobility that will boost staff morale and further support the four Strategic Objectives of the ILO and its new operational scenarios.
As a fourth illustration, and I now quote from a statement made six years ago by one of my predecessors during a similar occasion:
(A) policy must envisage the elaboration of a final solution to the unfair and discriminating issue of persons employed under short-term contracts for many years on end. (1)
Frankly, we could no longer keep the issue pending in the divide between our sincere but wishful thinking and the realities of the Centre’s operating requirements. The compromise that was reached is an important new platform of understanding. It is substantial in numbers and comprehensive in scope. It addresses, inter alia, the inappropriate use of short-term contracts resulting in a so-called "persistence of purgatory", with chronic situations of precariousness that have generated unfulfilled expectations, misunderstandings and discontent. This Staff Union salutes the efforts that everyone on both sides of the fence has made on this thorny issue to reach such a platform.
Finally, the Staff Union hopes to encourage a work environment that is more supportive of and responsive to an employee’s personal and family life. A family life that for many is a source of daily inspiration. Given the contained size of our community, it would be useful if we could learn more from the psychological proximity and caring that happens at home. Caring at work should not represent an innovation, but a way of being, of discovering ourselves when listening to our colleagues, a way of making our working relationships more mature and motivated and less driven by rank or routine, and a way of sharing the ownership of problems and their solutions.
In this vein, we should also strive for more simplicity in our procedures and how they are communicated. Simplicity and flexibility can be assimilated when one finds an entrepreneurial and loyal workforce like we have. The option of greater flexibility in the work schedule while maintaining core hours is a "simple" step in the right direction. A direction in which we are supporting other concerns (e.g. a crèche) and measures to take fuller advantage of today’s know-how and technology, and to further enhance the conditions of safety and hygiene in the workplace and around the campus; thanks also to the generous collaboration of the local authorities.
As for the second point, Mr. Chairperson, a recent survey that we conducted with the staff highlighted two sets of challenges:
In the immediate : a more integrated management of the pool of human resources starting with gender equity; the issue of short-term staff I alluded to earlier and which will be closely monitored; a more equitable distribution of work; and quality dialogue with management regarding the options available to the Centre.
In the future : market competitiveness; the relationship between the ILO Turin Centre and the ILO; and the pension " problématique " affecting some individual cases, which was brought up in a recent Staff Assembly.
For the immediate, the technical realignment of the Training Department is also a first chance, and I quote: "(to) place human resources development at the core of the Centre’s strategic planning process, and create clear links between its overall goals and its allocation of resources, resulting in clear workplans at the unit level as the basis for teamwork and individual job design". (2) Here, the key is making sure that the staff knows precisely what is expected and involve it with trust and respect. The staff is anxious, but only of the unknown. And we feel that each of us is needed to form part of this corporate effort. If and when work should be redistributed, we must turn, as suggested in the past, to all the talent available by offering equal opportunities and also by inviting governments to make more associate experts available from around 20 industrialized countries and developing countries too.
This anticipates a point about the future.
Growth in the Centre’s activities is its lifeblood and aspiration. But does growth always correlate with general well-being? Our activities are indeed responses to market requests. They are not, however, indicators of the human effort that lies behind the scenes.
The staff, over the years, has shown how it can "stretch" and still work under stress with a smile; but the market will not tell us when we may be crossing certain thresholds or asking for too much, with the risk of diminishing returns in the value of our products and in the credibility of our services. Escalating work can often be dysfunctional when the downtime during which the staff can assimilate the lessons learned from each activity’s outcome is taken away. (Or simply to recharge.) Hence the need to be cautious, so as to ensure the economic benefits that could be accrued when the appropriate social architecture is in place. In the end, we want to work towards a growth that can be sustained because it delivers value to everyone involved.
Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen,
This takes me to the last point: the perception of the future. It would be difficult to suggest any special adjustment to training and learning to a world moving at breakneck speed, with aggressive competitors even in the area of training. But it would be reasonable to ask that we imagine with pragmatism what we may sensibly anticipate in terms of our core business (new and relevant products, and bonding with customers) and what supports it (in-house efficiency and harmonious teamwork).
Regarding in-house efficiency, our plans and budgets make us experts in the "here and now". But we need to think also about the "there and then". After all, and as someone said: "The more efficient and faster the car, the further its lights must reach". For instance, a considerable number of colleagues from various sectors will be retiring between 2000 and 2005 (up to 33). An invaluable professional heritage may be lost if it is not transferred and re-internalized. Here is, therefore, an opportunity to put into practice that policy of career development and integrated people management reflecting the guiding principles of the ILO and our own values.
The staff of the Centre is very mindful of its mandate in training for human resources development. That is why it deserves to be challenged in its own development through processes that are home-grown, participatory, and involving the potential of everyone. For we still do not know how far this potential can go in contributing to the Centre’s future and towards its performance ceiling.
One concern I have is to avoid a criticism that might be levelled against all of us in a few years’ time. Namely, that today we had not been sufficiently confident in the fidelity of our experience in hunting meaningful opportunities from within and without, in such a way as to have helped prepare for tomorrow. Unless we begin to use some navigation charts to envisage the "there and then" with the human capital we can already count on, this tomorrow will suffer the same destiny as unscored music.
Successful organizations, like the staff (and their families) that build them, are always in a state of becoming, with a common starting point: understanding the professional needs of individual women and men and allying them with the goals of the organization. This also takes into account the influence that each staff member can bear in affecting his or her own future and in being made accountable for it. A future where the human synergies between Turin and Geneva, between the "field" and headquarters, and between the Centre, the Institute and ILO Geneva, can open a wider horizon to our efforts. In so doing, and, in our modest way, we can indeed contribute to the construction of the "big picture of the ILO" and its social role in the next millennium.
With this, Mr. Chairperson, I want to conclude by thanking, on behalf of all the staff, the local, regional and national authorities, the ILO, and donors, for their continued support. We do appreciate it and hope that it may stimulate more partners in shouldering our very rewarding work. My gratitude to all colleagues for their ideas and constructive criticisms, and the opportunity to represent them. Also, to management for inviting since the beginning, an open and continuous dialogue with us, around the priorities of the International Training Centre of the ILO and the UN Staff College project.
1. Statement made by the Staff Union Chairperson on 21 May 1993, p. 4.
2. Focus on Excellence: Human Resources Development at the ITC of the ILO Turin, Review and Recommendations, Dirk Salomons, 15 December 1997, p. 6.