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On both sides of the border, unions welcome Covid-19 economic measures

By Cristina Cavilla and Priya Gulraj

Unite the Union has welcomed the Government’s second wave of economic measures and vowed to play its part in policing the new system to prevent abuses.

This comes as the Mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco, and unions across the border welcomed the measures, which were outlined by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Tuesday.

Mr Franco said the measures will provide “economic respite” for many families living in La Linea.
He also welcomed the announcement that contracts that were in place on March 15 will continue.

“This demonstrates a commitment from the Gibraltar Government towards workers and the companies and this is something worth being happy about,” Mr Franco said.

“I hope that the Spanish Government will be able to provide some specific measures as well.”

Menawhile, Manolo Triano, the Cadiz secretary for the workers’ union CCOO, welcomed this announcement on his Twitter feed.

He reassured those concerned about not being at work at the moment by explaining the way in which the money will be paid to them.

Unite’s phone lines were “saturated” with calls from union members who were “delighted” with the package of measures which aim to “place a shield around working people” amid the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.

On Wednesday Unite chiefs began the process of calling its members’ employers to check that they would comply with the measures.

According to Christian Duo, Chair of the Unite Gibraltar Executive, the consensus was positive and only a small fraction of construction firms was disgruntled at the fact that the measures do not kick in until April, meaning they wouldl have to cover employees’ salaries for the final week of March themselves.

But, he said, all companies they had contacted thus far would fall in line and comply with the measures.

The union itself was supportive of the proposals which include a number of proposals put forward by Unite as part of the Covid Emergency Liaison and Advisory Committee (CELAC).

Any abuses of the system will constitute a criminal offence punishable by way of fines and imprisonment as appropriate and Mr Duo said Unite will play its part in policing claims for these measures.

In a bulletin to members the union said there were a couple of areas that needed to be ironed out with the Government such as the designation of agency workers.

Additionally, Unite said it will be contacting employers where lay-offs had occurred after March 15 for these to be reversed and members to be placed back in employment with the restoration of contractual rights.

“Contact has already been made with a number of employers and we are pleased to report that they are following the Government scheme fully,” the union said.

“Members that have been laid off by their employer after March 15 should approach their employer to be re-engaged as above, if the employer refuses to do so, then you should contact the union for support.”

The Government has also stated that employers abusing the BEAT Covid-19 measures will be sanctioned with both civil and criminal measures.

The union is also putting in place temporary reduced subscription rates for members that during April will be in receipt of the BEAT Covid-19 measures.

These will apply as long as the measures are being paid, this is to recognise that incomes will be reduced and enable members to maintain their membership at such a difficult time.

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