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Govt hits back at GSD over agency workers

Gibraltar will step up its contingency planning as from January 1, 2019, if there is no certainty of a Withdrawal Agreement and implementation period by that date, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told an influential House of Lords select committee.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo yesterday said the GSD’s comments on agency workers were “a remarkable cry for attention”, adding that the party “cannot exonerate themselves of blame” for this practice.

Mr Picardo was reacting to a statement from the GSD that was critical of the government’s “knee-jerk” response on agency workers.

He said the current administration inherited the employment of people from S&K from the GSD.
The Chief Minister said: “I have accepted that we should have ended the practice sooner – it is high time the GSD accepted that they created the problem.”

Mr Picardo said he was “very happy to give effect to the commitment” made a year ago to offer agency workers employment in the Gibraltar Development Corporation.

He said: “The fact of the matter is that the Government did not have to negotiate with anyone to drastically improve the terms and conditions and security of employment of those providing services to it.”

Mr Picardo is now looking forward to engaging with Unite the Unions on the issues that they raised with him recently.

This will form the basis of a continued constructive engagement on the other issues that arise between the government and the union, and any ancillary issues that remain in respect of agency workers, Mr Picardo said.

“But I won’t take any lessons on industrial relations from the GSD,” Mr Picardo added.

“They are the party that forced through entry into the Civil Service of workers outside the established rules in 2011, even playing fast and loose with the PSC rules.”

“We have worked to ensure that GDC/Civil Service ring fence issues are resolved after the problems the GSD created.”

Mr Picardo said the GSD is responsible for reducing “the manning level of some government departments to zero”, adding that the government is committed to the manning levels of the civil service and have exceeded them.

He said the GSD is responsible for ending the Civil Service pension scheme and the party that used to pay young people “only half the minimum wage on schemes they designed to tamper with the unemployment statistics”.

The government has increased the minimum way every year since they were elected, Mr Picardo said, and raised the wages for those youngsters on the scheme employed with the government.

“They are therefore the party of cheap labour and the party of the cheapskates who would not even pay the minimum wage,” Mr Picardo said.

“They have no moral authority to pretend to be on the side of workers when they mercilessly exploited workers when they were in government.”

The work this government is doing with Unite and the unions has “delivered real and drastic improvements in the rights of workers”, Mr Picardo said.

He said: “A lot has been done and a lot is still to be done and I remain ambitious for what I can achieve in partnership with Unite and other unions.”

“That is what matters most to those who are really looking out for workers' rights and not those out to save their political skins, as so many in the GSD today seem to be worried to do.”