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Carers walk out amid concern over long-term job prospects

Walk Out Mount Alvernia 2019 Register 110219 (Photo John Bugeja ) of Electors and introduce on -Line Voter Registration Program

Mount Alvernia carers who have looked after Gibraltar’s elderly for years yesterday staged a walkout yesterday in protest at a GHA recruitment drive aimed at local residents.

A Spanish nursing assistant, who is employed at Mount Alvernia through an agency, said she and her colleagues, many of them from Spain too, were concerned about this requirement.

“I have spent the past four years looking after your grandparents,” she told the Chronicle.

“They spend their last years with all of us and I think it is very unfair that we work hard to ensure their well-being to now find out that complete strangers will be able to get these jobs simply because they live in Gibraltar.”

“Nothing is stopping us from applying for the job, but not being a Gibraltar resident might make things difficult for us.”

More than 30 agency workers joined in the walk out organised by Unite the Union.

The GHA is seeking applications for permanent nursing assistants but the vacancies are open only to residents.

This has left many Spanish agency workers nervous about what is in store for them and left them with no choice but to reach out to Unite the Union, which yesterday organised the protest.

Standing outside Mount Alvernia, staff and Unite representatives held placards which read “Enough is Enough” and “Our elderly population deserve quality care and nothing less”.

Unite the Union, in turn, has called on the government to change the way the vacancies are advertised so that any “competent candidate with the vocation required for the job” may be able to apply.

The care workers have been employed via agencies for many years and doing the same jobs as those on permanent contracts are not being given a “fair chance”, the union added.

Unite’s Michael Netto said: “Unite wants a system where those individuals that have been serving the community in the long term are not excluded.”

“If an individual has been working in this role for the past two, three, four, five years, they should be made permanent.”

Mr Netto suggested an “ambitious” training scheme should be introduced to train up future care workers so that the elderly residents have “a trained, motivated workforce to safeguard their needs”.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

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