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Govt and Unite defuse tourism row with promise of dialogue

Unite and the Gibraltar Government have defused industrial tension that led to an impromptu walkout last Friday at Upper Rock tourist sites. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Government and Unite the Union engaged in a “frank and open” conversation on Monday to defuse industrial tension among union members in the Department of Environment.

Tourist sites were shut for over two hours on Friday morning after staff from the Upper Rock, the cemetery and environmental monitoring unit staged a walkout over working conditions.

The union agreed to call off the walkout pending the outcome of Monday’s meeting with Steven Linares, the minister with responsibility for industrial relations.

Now it has ended the action after securing a commitment to dialogue.

“A frank and open conversation was held between the parties where a process of consultation will be established in the coming months that identify efficiencies, invites proposals from the workforce in relation to revenue and savings, and ensures a value for money service,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“The minister was keen to emphasise that despite the backdrop of the pandemic that has had an impact on Gibraltar’s economy, and the uncertainty of the current EU negotiations, it was incumbent on Government to review and enhance its services within its capabilities and resources as a matter of fact, although the current economic provisions was a catalyst that no one could ignore.”

“In the interim, the status quo will prevail until such time that consultation and review of existing services could be undertaken, with the minister avowing a swift but efficient process within the next few months for the process to be concluded.”

Unite said the two sides had agreed to engage in “meaningful dialogue” and that any changes arising from those negotiations should be sustainable and meet the aspirations of its members.

“This will allow Unite’s membership within the Upper Rock, Cemetery, Monitoring Unit, EPRU and the Tourism department to provide the community and Gibraltar’s tourism with the best possible service,” the union said.

Unite said it would write to Mr Linares and provide a document focused on the need for collective bargaining.

“Unite today, welcomes the Ministers approach and commitment to maintain the status quo until we have engaged with Government and until together with our departmental representatives agree to a way forward,” the union said.

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