As Master Service employees protest outside Parliament, MPs focus on cleaning
The tender for municipal cleaning services will be published imminently and the contract that follows will provide a high standard of cleanliness throughout Gibraltar as well as stability for the employees of Master Service, Minister for the Environment Dr Cortes said in Parliament yesterday.
The long-running issue was brought to a head before the House in the form of a Government motion, brought by Dr Cortes, in which he said that the Master Service workforce “deserves to be reassured”.
It has received heightened prominence in recent months following a spate of complaints by the public generally, Opposition MPs and by the Government specifically, the latter made directly to the directors of Master Service, of the state of cleanliness of parts of Gibraltar.
Yesterday morning, throngs of Master Service workers had gathered outside the House to protest, peacefully, about working conditions and uncertainty surrounding their employment in light of the tender process.
The approximately sixty-strong crowd brandished signs calling for an “end to the uncertainty”, and were supported by convenors from the GGCA.
Those workers had attempted to enter Parliament in order to listen to proceedings from the public gallery but were prevented from doing so.
Eventually an agreement was reached by the police officer on-site and the General Secretary of the GGCA that two representatives would be permitted to enter along with two GGCA convenors.
When the issue was flagged before the House, the Speaker Adolfo Canepa underscored that the decision was not taken by his office, the Government or the Opposition.
He added that Master Service workers were “very welcome here”.
In a statement clarifying its decision the RGP said: “Whilst it is true that the demonstration was peaceful the decision was taken to restrict the numbers entering the House.”
“This was to minimise the risk of any disruption to the proceedings of Parliament by demonstrators.”
“At the point of wishing to enter Parliament it was not clear to officers that those demonstrating had ceased to be demonstrators and were, at that point, bona fide members of the public wishing to enter Parliament.”
This was discussed with the GGCA representatives who complied with the request to limit the numbers of employees entering the House, the RGP explained.
“The RGP recognises that the appropriateness of the decision taken is open to debate, but sought to act in the best interests of both Parliament and the Master Services employees.”
Nonetheless, the RGP said it recognises that the public have a right to lawful assembly and to demonstrate, and that the public have a right of access to the public gallery at the House of Parliament.
In presenting his motion to the House, Dr Cortes acknowledged the excellent work that the employees of Master Service have done and do in discharging their obligations to keep Gibraltar clean.
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