GGCA steps up industrial action in dispute over cybersecurity roles
The GGCA has escalated its industrial action at the Information Technology & Logistics Department, claiming negotiations with the Gibraltar Government had collapsed.
The union said its members in that department were on “go slow” and were not answering phones, with a walkout also planned just after midday on Friday.
But the decision to escalate was described by the Government as “frankly irresponsible” and was leading to disruption for users of eGov services.
The Government rejected the union’s claims but said it remained open to dialogue to dialogue, though not under pressure of industrial action.
The dispute, first declared last May, relates to cybersecurity roles and responsibilities and was suspended to allow for negotiations with Steven Linares, the Minister for Industrial Relations, and Albert Isola, the Minister for Digital and Financial Services.
But the talks broke down last Tuesday and the GGCA said it had no option but to ramp up its action.
“Concerns from the membership that the cybersecurity responsibilities were being taken away from IT&LD in reality, in spite of a proposed way forward, were completely disregarded by Minister Isola,” the GGCA said.
“In addition, the request from the workforce to have key members of staff involved in policy meetings in order to provide expert advice on IT and cybersecurity matters for the purpose of critical decision making was rejected entirely.”
“This means that the ministry will continue not to consult IT&LD experts and will continue to undermine IT&LD in any critical decision making process, as has been the case for the last sic years.”
“This has been to the detriment of both IT&LD workers and, very worryingly, to the detriment of the taxpayer.”
“To date, more than £20m of taxpayers’ money has been spent by the Ministry for Digital Services, with very little to show for it, as can be seen this week alone by the failure to properly provide online services for the submission of tax returns.”
But the union’s position was rejected by the Gibraltar Government, which said there had always been “full consultation” with IT&LD.
The Government said it considered there was no dispute with IT&LD or their members.
It said the three points raised by the GGCA had been resolved and were agreed at a meeting on November 22 between the workforce, the government and the GGCA.
According to the government, a new and further request was raised relating to the composition of the Policy Committee. It said the statement that IT&LD was not represented on Policy Committees was “untrue”.
The Government said it believed the department was best represented by the Head of the Department, the Director of IT&LD, “who has all the experts available to him in his Department to give advice to him on all areas under discussion”.
It said the Government was happy to consult further and consider representations on expanding the Policy Committee, “but not in the context of industrial action”.
“It is extraordinary that the GGCA refer to Tax Services as a failure especially as the Government of Gibraltar has had to extend the deadline as a result of IT&LD technical issues,” Mr Isola said.
“Despite this, over 18,000 Tax Returns have been filed online using the new services.”
“This is obviously a success and one to be proud of.”
“Government nonetheless continues to have difficulty in providing services to the general public as a result of IT&LD’s continued industrial action.”
“It is frankly irresponsible of the GGCA and IT&LD to take industrial action in these circumstances, where there is no genuine dispute and the service to the general public is being disrupted unnecessarily.”
“The Government’s doors remain open to discussion, especially as our last meeting was positive and forward looking and had led to all the then outstanding issues being resolved.”
“I genuinely believe that we are able to move forward with goodwill and that the public will be disappointed by the latest announcement from the GGCA.”