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Customs officers escalate industrial action in shift rotation dispute

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Customs officers belonging to the GGCA union will step up industrial action over plans to exclude the Marine Section from a shift rotation system.

Union officials met senior Customs managers to try and resolve the current dispute but have failed to unlock the impasse.

The union’s members were already taking industrial action by going to work in civilian clothing.

This will continue but in addition, only one officer will man the vehicle channel at Four Corners and no phones will answered during working hours in the administration and enforcement departments.

The union says the move to exclude the Marine Section from the rotation system would turn it into a “closed shop” and is unfair to officers in other sections.

In a statement, the GGCA said the acting Collector of Customs had showed willingness to explore a viable formula for the inclusion of the Marine Section into the Bi-Annual Staff Rotation Agreement.

But the GGCA said he was unable to commit to any specifics relating to time limitation or rotation period for the Marine Section, or to a deadline by which this can be delivered as he would need to consult with a range of marine regulating bodies.

“This was unacceptable to the GGCA HM Customs membership on the basis that this matter had been broached with the Collector of Customs (Ag) in April this year,” the union said.

“Clearly, no consultation with necessary third parties had taken place from April until October, when non rotation was presented as the only option for the Marine Section.”

“Indeed, the inability to work towards a deadline will mean that the biennial staff rotations set for January 2022 will then take place excluding the Marine Section.”

“For this reason, it was felt that the only avenue available to the GGCA was an escalation of industrial action.”
The union has not ruled out further escalation and will consult members in the coming days.

The row has pitched the GGCA against Unite the Union, which holds the bargaining rights for the Marine Section.

Unite said it could not accept the Marine Section’s inclusion into the Customs biennial rotation agreement because of the specialist nature of the work.

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