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No decision on AA appointments, Govt says

Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government today said it is assessing the needs of the Civil Service, adding that any decision on the appointments of Administrative Assistants has not been finalised.

This comes as the GSD and GGCA went head-to-head after the GSD questioned whether 85 vacancies for the position had been withdrawn or the recruitment process had been delayed.

Addressing these concerns, the Gibraltar Government said: “Clearly this has been a difficult year, and there are many priorities for the Government.”

“The needs of the Civil Service are currently being assessed.”

“A decision on the appointment of AAs, has not been finalised.”

“The Chief Secretary will soon be putting a proposal to the Chief Minister in respect of these and other matters relevant to the public administration.”

For their part, the GGCA asked the GSD to clarify its position on the Administrative Assistant recruitment process and whether it thinks the recruitment process should be suspended at this time.

But the GSD said it had asked the Government, which is the employer of these 85 vacancies, a “direct question which has not yet been answered”, adding that the unions were in “no better position” than the Opposition.

For its part, the GGCA said it has been campaigning for the recruitment of entry grade clericals into the civil service since April 2015, when a recruitment drive for Administrative Assistants was suspended.

“This, in large part, led to the creation of a large group of supply workers within the public service on very inferior terms and conditions of employment, an issue which sparked industrial action in the form of a mass demonstration organised by Unite in January 2019 and supported by GGCA and Gibraltar NASUWT,” the union said.

“The important issue to highlight at this instance is that, in spite of many assurances that this matter would be resolved, at present the number of vacancies in the lower clerical grades has yet to be filled.”

“As per GGCA estimates, at present there are 72 Administrative Officer vacancies and 13 Administrative Assistant vacancies.”

The GGCA said it feels that its clerical membership has done an outstanding job in maintaining public services whilst carrying massive shortfalls in staffing levels since 2015.

“The GGCA would like to reiterate that respecting the established complement of the civil service (which the Government of Gibraltar committed to maintain as at 2011 levels) is essential if we are to deliver the public service required to meet the challenges we shall be facing in future,” the union said.

It asked the GSD to clarify whether, in its statement, the party was suggesting that another suspension of the Administrative Assistant recruitment process was appropriate at this time.

“Surely the GSD does not require the clerical grades to continue shouldering the burden of more than 80 entry level vacant posts for another five years?” the union added.

Meanwhile the GSD said its sole objective on making this statement is to clarify whether or not the Government will honour the pre-General Election invitation for these particular posts to be filled or whether it has now decided – for other reasons – not to.

“If the Government wishes to withdraw or otherwise renege on its commitment then it should come out and say so,” the Opposition said.

“The GSD is fully behind the proper and efficient delivery of public services to the general public.”

“It is right that the civil service must have the appropriate level of resources to meet the needs of the members of the public in its daily interactions in the short, medium to long term.”

The GSD’s spokesman for employment, Elliott Phillips, said: “In that context and assuming that vacancies must be having an effect on the service available to the general public we repeat our request to the Government to answer our question, namely, are the Government withdrawing their invitation for the filling of close to 85 vacancies within the service or are they continuing with recruitment process?”

“If for financial reasons they are withdrawing these or some of these they should explain why and how they intend to deliver public services efficiently.”