May Day message from Unite the Union
Involve workers in decisions
Workers have proven to be critical in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with May Day being the perfect day for us to highlight that workers will continue to be a crucial element towards ensuring the future Economic recovery of Gibraltar.
Employers must allow for workers, who will be the vanguard against any further COVID-19 spikes, to be more involved in the decision-making machinery across the public and private sector. Austerity is not the answer.
As we enter into a pivotal decade where changes may be inevitable the impact of such changes will be felt most proximately and profoundly by workers, an impact that must be mitigated at all costs, as failure to do so will without a doubt be detrimental to the economy, more so as we consider the prospect of transition being undertaken during a perfect storm of uncertainty brought about by Brexit and COVID-19.
A storm best dealt with a long-term economic plan for recovery, not a short-term plan consisting of cuts and savings. A greater collective voice in the workplace is a must. Unite continues its campaign towards regulating the recognition of Trades Unions. A campaign which will provide workers with a collective voice, bargaining powers and employment protections over and above those protections that exist within the statutory minimum requirements.
It is vital that workers’ concerns, desires and expertise are not just heard but placed firmly at the centre of the process.
July 1, 2021, will be a historic day for Gibraltar as it sees the introduction of Occupational Pension Schemes for all workers, working within employers classed as large employers. Appropriate public awareness to ensure employers and employees are prepared for the introduction of the Private Sector Pensions act in a timely manner is a must.
Notwithstanding the union’s welcoming approach to the Private Sector Pensions Act, we continue to believe that there are improvements and amendments still to be made to the act.
Family friendly policies need improvements. Gibraltar is nearly 30 years behind the implementation of improved Family Friendly Policies, including maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave compared to other EU countries.
As have other EU member states done, Gibraltar must transpose the 1992 Maternity Leave Directive and the 2010 Parental Leave Directive into our own legislation in full.
Far too many workers are struggling to survive on a minimum wage. Increases to the minimum wage beyond the rate of index Retail Prices must continue beyond the budgeted increases concluding this year. Research to identify and implement a Gibraltar National Living Wage suitable for Gibraltar’s cost of living must be undertaken by HM GOG in conjunction with Unite the Union and a long-term plan for the minimum wage and the living wage to become one of the same must be adopted.
Whilst this may at first sight be thought to be an expensive and unaffordable exercise research shows that an increase to those low earners within our community has a positive microeconomic impact on employment and on the economy at large resulting from increased demands for goods and services in the economy.
A collective agreement between HM GOG and Unite the Union to regulate the use of agency, fixed term and zero hours contract workers in the public sector is being finalised.
To eradicate insecure employment in the Gibraltar labour market, the private sector must follow suit and engage with us to agree a collective approach to tackle insecure employment.
Changes in legislation protecting workers against fixed term and zero hour contracts misuse is a must. A protection that will only be just, if the use of fixed term and zero hours contracts is restricted to where there is a genuine requirement for short term cover in resource and never used to cover for a permanent full time job.
We must provide equity in the delivery of old age pensions. This May Day Unite calls for the equalisation of the age at which a pension is payable for men and women. 60, which is the age that is currently enjoyed for by women should be adopted as the benchmark for such equalisation.
Therefore, men and women will enjoy their pension at the age of 60.
May Day is our day. It is the day when we celebrate the contributions and struggles of working people, more particularly so after the contributions and struggles we have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we look forward to a return to normality, on behalf of Unite, I must take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your huge contributions during such hard times. As we continue our return to normality, Unite, whilst continuing the fight for workers’ rights, looks forward to addressing you all in the traditional way on May Day of 2022.
Stay safe, stay healthy.