World Bank Contractors Protest Over Working Conditions

World Bank Contractors on Wednesday, protested over their alleged unfavourable working conditions.

The contractors under the aegis ; World Bank short-term contract employees protested following the allegation that they were asked to work more than their legally billable hours.

According to them, the new development was claimed to be necessary so as to avoid hiring permanent employees eligible for full benefits.

The Contractors said they fear that failing to comply with additional work requests will jeopardise their contract renewal and could affect their visa status, particularly in the United States.

The bank workers and staff association said this in a statement on Wednesday.

The staff association delivered a statement during a meeting of the bank’s human resources committee lamented none of the outstanding issues was addressed .

The association chairman, Talib Esmail, said “literally none” of the long-standing issues regarding contractor structure were addressed in a recent analysis of the short-term workforce.

He also described short-term contractors as highly vulnerable.

Staff surveys taken before the pandemic showed that 41 per cent of short-term contractors said they were asked by a manager to work more than their contracted hours and more than half reported working more hours than they billed.

“We continue to hear that these issues persist,”

Esmail did not respond to repeated requests for comment on behalf of the association.

The bank utilises several categories of contractors, with short-term contractors limited to working 150 days in a calendar year.

They are not eligible for health insurance, vacation, or sick leave.

Extended-term contractors can work full time, receive a salary, have 24 days of leave, access a staff health plan, and get severance payment when their contract ends. Neither category has access to pension benefits.

A World Bank contractor, who has worked on both types of contracts and spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their job, said it is common knowledge inside the bank that short-term contractors work much more than their billable 150 days to complete their workload and remain in good standing.

“I’ve never been told that I needed to work more. But of course, I work way more. And you don’t claim it because you can’t. … You just do it,” the contractor told Devex.

Complaints over the use of consultants at the bank are not new, and in fact go back decades, leading to reforms in the 1990s. Yet those who work at the bank remain frustrated that nothing has changed in recent years.

According to the staff association, as of fiscal year 2022, there are about 23,000 short-term contractors at the World Bank – equaling the working hours of 7,200 full-time staff. Although the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Development Association commitments have grown 64 per cent between fiscal year 2014 and 2022, full-time staff have only grown by 3 per cent.

He added “contractors are necessary. I understand that. You need a study done, you need a survey done, you need communications – there’s a thousand reasons why you may need (a short-term contractor).

“But there are a bunch of us working at the bank that are performing functions. We are not [a short-term contractor] by the definition. We are people that the bank is using not to open a staff position because they don’t want to pay for the full amount.”

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