Shifting UN Spin to Justify Press Delay & Favoritism in Press Corps Move-Back?

Why was it announced on January 11 that the UN press corps will be delayed two months in moving back into the renovated UN headquarters building? The CMP & DPI have given answers, FUNCA is pressing to get to the bottom of it.  After the announcement of delay, the Free UN Coalition for Access immediately inquired with the UN Capital Master Plan, in charge of the renovation, and was told 

“The decision to change the move-back date to April was caused by collateral impacts of Hurricane Sandy, especially by a lack of adequate labor due to increased demand for overtime-paying construction repair jobs. This affects the new Permanent Broadcast Facility in the Conference Building, whose completion is necessary for the new press offices to function.”

This was asked at the UN noon briefing on January 14:

 We had been told that the press corps was going to move in February, now it’s going to be April, and the Capital Master Plan, I asked why and they said it’s due to lack of adequate labor due to the increased demand of overtime paying construction repair jobs after Hurricane Sandy. So, is Skanska using union labor? Does Skanska have its own work force or people just brought in on an ad hoc basis? And what’s specific about this permanent broadcast facility that requires overtime or sort of ad hoc construction labor?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: Well, I’d have to refer that… I’ll have to ask the Capital… the people who run the Capital Master Plan for an idea of that, I don’t exactly know what their contractual obligations are. What I do know is that normally, contractors contract. And, if the market has grown significantly since Hurricane Sandy in terms of construction, the prices have gone up, all of these things have to be factored in. But, I will find out from the Capital Master Plan.

 Thanks, it seemed to say that this permanent broadcast facility, because it can’t be completed the press can’t move. And this wasn’t explained either, does this involve this piping in the television to the offices or is it only some people that would be affected?

Deputy Spokesperson: No, it involves basically… I believe it involves the press theatre.. Where we hold the press conferences and the press… the daily briefings. We have to have that set for everybody to move.

 So, people could move their offices and come back here for the briefings?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, all of this is being taken a look at, Matthew, I don’t have anything for you right now, but we will find out.

  Two full days later, there had been no answer through this channel. In the interim, a senior Department of Public Information official told FUNCA that the UN has the same number of construction workers, they are just having to be diverted to deal with damage to the UN from Hurricane Sandy.

  In preparation for an interchange with DPI, FUNCA asked the Capital Master Plan and learned this is not the case: it’s that other work sites in the region are paying more, after Sandy, so fewer construction workers are coming to the UN. We can’t pay more, the CMP explained.

   Can’t or won’t, that is the question. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has already moved back in the renovated building, as have DPI’s top officials.

  FUNCA also learned that only a relatively small percentage of UN correspondents would be impacted by the delay in the Permanent Broadcast Facility – only those that “need big pipes,” as the CMP put it.

  So why can’t the other correspondents move back in, out of the windowless cubicles (where every phone call can be overheard) to which they have been confined during the CMP?

  Some have been denied office space under the current plan agreed to or acquiesced in by the censoring and decaying UNCA, others confined to windowless offices.

  Other non-western wire services have not gotten their own space,

  Photographers with western wire services who rarely come to the UN are given white full access passes, while non-wire photographers more often here must go through metal detectors with green passes.

  Journalists from and on the Arab Spring are without office space; some have been denied even accreditation. Watch this site.