Labor Rights Bill of Rights

Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Editor

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The FSN Bill of Rights: Vote NOW!

By Ravindra M. Srivastava, Lezanda F. Prinsloo, Jenny Kriek, Beverley A. Paolini*

The hierarchy of employees at overseas posts places Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) at the apex, and Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs) at the base of the personnel pyramid. Despite this “power gap,” most officers treat FSNs very well. However, there are a few whose conduct toward our FSN colleagues leaves much to be desired.

Numerous reports from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) have highlighted concerns about the treatment of Locally Employed (LE) staff at overseas posts. In May 2007, OIG proposed the creation of an LE Staff Bill of Rights. Read the OIG report online pages 34-35. With malice toward none and charity for all, we postulate herewith an FSN Bill of Rights:

The FSN/LES Bill of Rights

Right to be respected as a fellow human being

Right to work in a safe environment free from fear, intimidation and harassment

Right to know the truth and speak the truth; to hear and be heard

Right to be appropriately acknowledged, praised, corrected and criticized

Right to my own opinion: to agree and to disagree, and to have space for expression, decision-making and action with accountability, but with-out retribution

Right to be treated as a professional, with knowledge, experience and expertise in my specialization

Right to a workplace without favoritism and discrimination; transparency, fairness and propriety in hiring and other personnel actions; and compliance with host government labor laws

Right to be assigned to one job (position) under one boss; an accurate and clearly defined job description; appropriate training commensurate with responsibilities; reasonable job-dependent workload and working hours; job-dependent fair compensation; regular, timely and candid reviews; and opportunities for learning, development and pro-motion

Right to timely and accurate information on essentials such as payroll, benefits, retirement and payments/reimbursements, as well as privileges such as U.S. travel visas and Special Immigrant Visas

Right to be loyal to my country while being faithful to the United States of America; to celebrate the religions, beliefs, languages, cultures and people of my country, and expect cultural sensitivity for my people and their ways, even as they differ from those of the U.S.

Right to [Insert your own words]

Right to [Insert your own words]

* Ravindra M. Srivastava, Lezanda F. Prinsloo, Jenny Kriek, and Beverley A. Paolini are all colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa

The original article appeared in the second issue of The Smart Leadership Journal, dated 1 September 2014, on the State Department’s intranet. FSNs can access the online version and vote (put stars on the rating panel). Please note that the ‘stars’ rating does not require an email address to be submitted.  People need to vote with their mouses to let others know how they feel about the ideas put forth in this article.

Interested FSNs can also share information about the proposed FSN Bill of Rights and other FSN issues on the private Facebook page FSNs Worldwide (only accessible to registered FSNs).

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