Director-General  QU Dongyu

Director-General praises general-services staff for their dedication and self-discipline in challenging times


31 March 2021, Rome - FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today praised the Rome-based United Nations agencies’ general-service employees around the world for their contributions to delivering on overarching mandates amid the challenging working conditions caused by COVID-19.

Management has taken its duty of care obligation very seriously, the Director-General said. “I would like to praise all of you for … showing a true spirit of cooperation, respect and a high-level of self-discipline”, he said in his address to the Annual Assembly of the United General Services Staff (UGSS), a group representing workers at FAO and the World Food Programme.

Not only did all employees fully adhere to safety protocols but they also adapted to telework requirements and other challenges and showed renewed dedication to the fight against hunger and poverty, he said. “Without your contribution it’s just a beautiful slogan,” the Director-General stated, underlining the importance of GS Staff support to FAO’s mission.

He noted that improving employee welfare and enhancing working conditions has been a priority of his since taking office in 2019. That applies both to professional and general-service staff, as “without close cooperation between them it’s hard to achieve much that is deliverable,” Qu said.

Progress has been made – notably the extension of maternity benefits and moves to enhance career development opportunities – and more will follow in terms of new rules to adapt to the “new normal”, he said, adding that he appreciated the “positive, constructive manner” in which the Staff-Management Consultative Committee has worked and expected them to continue building on a solid basis of mutual respect and trust.” FAO also increased health insurance coverage for staff and aligned long-range duty travel conditions with those of the United Nations system.

“I realize there’s a lot to improve - there’s no end, actually,” the Director-General noted, adding that  “Step by step we are making FAO a better place to work, and many little steps result in big impact”

In 2020, Qu convoked townhall meetings – a first in FAO’s history – enabling employees to interact directly with the Director-General and the management. Senior managers took notes and learned how to improve practices as a result, he said. He also required all senior managers to attend briefings on how to implement his zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual abuse, bullying and other malpractices in the workplace – both in Rome and in the field.  

Significant restructuring has taken place at headquarters, and more job vacancies will be announced in the coming months, within a new framework geared to increasing opportunities for career advancement and promotion for internal general-service staff.

“The challenges ahead of us are big,” Qu concluded. “You keep your promise and I’ll keep my promise.”