Exclusive: Croneyism 'jeopardises staff security at FAO HQ'

UN security guards at an FAO office

 ROME -- Experienced security guards at the FAO with firearms and language training are being passed over for promotion by the UN agency's management services director Piergiorgio Trentinaglia in favour of inexperienced cronies, jeopardising safety at Rome headquarters in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency, FAO sources say.  Three security team leaders out of five in the 50-strong security body at the Rome headquarters of the FAO have failed the UN firearms exam, meaning they should not have been promoted, the sources said.

 "Since the arrival of our new boss, Mr. Trentinaglia, we live a dark moment in our history," one source working as a guard at the FAO told the Insider. "Writing to you is the only way for us to let people know how things really work within our division. We could be victims of retaliation if we did it within FAO," he said, communicating on condition he not be named.
 "Lately we are witnessing real acts of abuse in reference to vacancies that our boss has requested to promote people already designated by him. As a consequence of this, people who submitted all requirements were cut off from interviews while people who did not even have the C level of English were interviewed and put on short lists. Most probably these people will get the promotion, because Mr. Trentinaglia has invented for them a mysterious level "C spoken" As you can see, this is humiliating and unfair. We still wonder how Human Resources can allow all this, which represents an abuse of power and a lack of respect for UN procedures."
 SIgnor Trentinaglia, a former Carabinieri colonel with the reputation of a martinet who lobbied successfully to get a D1 post on a sky-high salary, could not be reached for comment.
 The FAO security source added that "many of us try to apply in other divisions  to escape from this environment. Lately we are no longer called to interviews. According to unofficial sources, the rejection of our applications in other divisions is due to the action of Mr. Trentinaglia, who not only does not want to grant us promotions, but does not even want to let us go."  
  The source added that "I write on behalf of a substantial number of people. Those who could be promoted are colleagues who already have a supervisory role."
 "But among these people there are two groups: 1. People who have been assigned to these posts by Mr. T. only because they are faithful executors of his will. These people present a lack of essential requirements such as a proficiency level of English. There are team leaders who can't communicate in english, answer the phone or write a simple email. These people are not even brilliant from a  professional point of view."
 "2. People who are on these posts as per  previous management's decision and they actually deserve promotions."
 "Then there's a third group: people (us) who have a background of supervision in our previous work. In FAO we have engaged ourselves in training, courses, languages certifications and so on (firearms included). We did everything the organization asked us to be super professional. We were denied fair access to the interview while people who miss basic requirements not only were called for the interview but also promised  the post. We have evidence that the interview lists were made by Mr T. in collaboration with Human Resources. We would like to ask HR a formal explanation but we fear retaliation."
 "What we ask for is just transparency and equal access to promotion. Why do we spend time and energy on training and language studying if people without language certification and firearms certification get the best posts? Is really UN willing to accept a "C spoken" language level?"
 Communicating in English could be vital in the event of an emergency such as a terrorist attack on FAO of the kind that has happened at UN facilities in Iraq, Algeria and other locations around the world. Many staff at FAO do not speak Italian while English is the main lingua franca that would have to be used if the building had to be evacuated in an emergency. 
 FAO also recently decided to issue pistols to security guards. Pistols however cannot be issued to guards who have failed the UN firearms security exam. But guards who failed the firearm exam nevertheless are being called for interview for promotion at FAO in violation of UN rules, the sources said. 
 The disturbing disclosure was sure to lead to calls from staff for union and staff association leaders to demand an explanation from management over the criticism of the colonel's allegedly irresponsible behaviour, observers said.
Piergiorgio Trentinaglia (far right) with Major Paolo Farrugia, Chief of the Administrative Branch of the Scuola Allievi Carabinieri of Rome, Lt. Col. Massimiliano Sole, Commander of the Scuola Allievi Carabinieri, Photo credit: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano