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Govt backtracks on ‘selective’ civil service pay rises

FILE PHOTO: A cloud partially covers the tip of the Rock of the British territory of Gibraltar at sunrise from La Atunara port before Spanish fishermen sail in their fishing boats with their relatives to take part in a protest at an area of the sea where an artificial reef was built by Gibraltar using concrete blocks, in Algeciras bay, La Linea de la Concepcion in southern Spain August 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

The Gibraltar Government has backtracked on the issue of selective allowances for a small group of senior civil servants amidst criticism from union and opposition parties.

Yesterday, the government confirmed that it was suspending the so-called 10% “responsibility allowances” until these had been discussed in detail with union officials.

This comes after the white-collar union GGCA revealed that some senior officers had been awarded selective pay rises even though a pay-cap on high earners in the civil service remained in place.

The union said members were frustrated at the development and concerned that the pay cap, introduced in last year’s budget statement, would be repeated again this year, further eroding salaries.

The allowances drew strong condemnation from Together Gibraltar, who on Friday said it was “wholly unjustifiable” for the government to offer “effectively inflated salaries” for a small number of top officials while maintaining a pay cap for the rest of the civil service.

Yesterday the GSD echoed the concerns and suggested the move was a more serious repeat of the case in 2016 when two senior civil servants were given personal 28% pay rises by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

The GSD said the revelation came at a time when Sir Joe Bossano, Minister for Economic Development, had warned that the cost of the public sector was unsustainable relative to the private sector and the Government introduced a pay rise cap in the 2018 Budget.

The part said civil servants and the public deserved “fairness, transparency and financial accountability”.

GSD MP Roy Clinton said: “If what the GGCA is alleging is true then the Chief Minister has some explaining to do given Sir Joe Bossano’s recent comments about public sector pay relative to the private sector.”

“In the 2018 Budget not only did the Chief Minister impose a pay rise cap for those earning more than £46,000 in the public sector but he announced “an exercise to review senior public sector salaries and relativities”.

“Since the Budget we have heard nothing further about this review and I invite the Chief Minister to make public its results if it has been completed.”

In answer to questions, a Government spokesman told the Chronicle: “Late last year the Chief Secretary noted that a small group of Senior Officers had a breadth of responsibility greater than was normal for their grade.”

“As this discrepancy has been exacerbated by the demands of Brexit, it was decided to give a temporary financial allowance to the individuals concerned.”

“However, Chief Secretary acknowledges the criticism of the GGCA about the manner in which the assessment of eligibility for this allowance was made and in order to move positively to a resolution of the Union's concerns in this respect, wishes to meet with the leadership of the GGCA Union to explain the criteria followed and agree it going forward.”

“As a result, these allowances will be suspended until the relevant discussions have occurred between the Chief Secretary and the leadership of the GGCA.”

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