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GGCA samples appetite for industrial action over cap on public sector pay rise

Photo by David Parody

The Gibraltar General and Clerical Association has asked its members in the civil service and public sector whether they want to be balloted for industrial action over the recent pay cap announced by the Gibraltar Government.

A bulletin sent by the white collar union this week asked members to complete an online poll to establish whether there is support to declare a dispute over the government’s move to cap the public sector pay rise this year.

Union members believe the cap reneges on government commitments set out in the GSLP/Liberals’ 2015 electoral manifesto, in which the alliance vowed to increase public sector salaries by at least the rate of inflation.

That commitment, the GGCA members say, is at odds with a budget measure announced by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo for a 2.5% pay rise in the public sector capped at 60p an hour for those earning over £46,000, even though inflation is at 2.6%.

The decision to launch the poll was taken at an emergency general meeting on July 20 at which GGCA members also expressed concern over recent statements about public sector efficiency may by Sir Joe Bossano, the Minister for Economic Development and Public Sector Efficiency.

During the budget session, Sir Joe said Gibraltar’s public sector was unsustainable in its current form “even without Brexit”, adding that “things will have to change”.

“I know that within the public sector there are many who understand the need to move in this direction but there are also those that do not,” Mr Bossano said at the time.

He said investment in e-government and efficiency measures would protect the long-term viability of the public sector and the services it delivers for the community, insisting that it was a case of working “smarter, not harder”.

Both Mr Bossano and the Chief Minister were careful to acknowledge the work carried out by the civil service and the wider public sector, insisting that the Gibraltar Government had been “totally supportive” in everything from pay rises to working hours.

The message was that the Gibraltar Government was taking steps to deliver a modern, efficient and strengthened civil service and public sector.

But Mr Bossano’s comments on efficiency, coupled to the cap on pay increases, have caused deep unease among many members of the GCCA, who called on the union’s committee to sample opinion across all members in the civil service and public sector.

The GGCA’s online poll opened yesterday and asked members whether to indicate whether they were in favour of declaring a dispute over the pay cap and whether they believed members should be balloted for industrial action.

The poll also asked members to express a view on whether the recruitment process for Administrative Assistants within the civil service should be commenced immediately.

The GGCA said it would require the backing of roughly half its membership in order to declare a dispute and proceed to a ballot on industrial action.

“The decision to launch the online poll reflects the strength of feeling in the membership,” GGCA president Wendy Cumming told the Chronicle.

“We need to know whether or not there is a mandate from members to proceed to a ballot on industrial action.”

The online poll opened yesterday and will run until August 17, after which a decision will be taken based on the results.

The union said it was leaving the poll open for a longer period to account for the fact that many of its members would be on holiday over the coming weeks.

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