WIPO staff association head dismissed for whistleblowing

24 September 2014
On Friday 19 September 2014, Mr. Moncef Kateb, head of the WIPO[i] staff association was summarily dismissed. This was done in advance of WIPO's annual governing body meeting, where he was expected to criticize the controversial management style and behaviour of Director-General Francis Gurry.

Staff unions of the UN system around the world called for the reinstatement of Mr Kateb in a letter to the WIPO governing body (the Assemblies of Member States).

The letter was sent prior to his dismissal at a time when he was on suspension without pay. As the letter explains, Mr. Kateb had blown the whistle on several occasions in the past, including on the shipment of sophisticated IT equipment to North Korea. WIPO Director-General, Mr. Gurry, is currently the subject of a preliminary investigation for two different charges, one for improperly influencing a procurement process, the other for improperly using the Geneva police to obtain the DNA of WIPO staff so as to identify the author of a letter against him.

PSI is deeply concerned by the continued social conflicts within the UN system and the break-down of consensus-based collective bargaining. The highest quality of public services can only be delivered by workers whose rights are fully respected. To this end, Public Services International defends and advances the fundamental rights and conditions of work for all workers across the globe regardless of status.

These rights begin with the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The United Nations are seen by people around the world as the main reference point for the promotion and protection of fundamental workers’ rights. All workers have the right to decide who represents them – this is not a prerogative of management. The WIPO Director-General's actions are shameful and not in accordance with the principles he represents.

In a letter to the WIPO Staff Association, PSI pledges its support to future actions in cooperation with the ILO staff union and other PSI affiliates for the reinstatement of Mr Kateb and to ensure the respect of basic trade union rights. We hope that a more positive environment will be created by the WIPO management in the near future so that real issues can be addressed in a constructive manner.

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[i] WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 187 member states. Its mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.

 

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