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Teachers back industrial action over pay claim

Teachers Demo 020519 { seq} ( Photo John Bugeja) from Casemates to No 6 where they presented a letter to the CM

Members of Gibraltar NASUWT, the teachers’ union, have voted to back industrial action over what they say is the Gibraltar Government’s failure to respond appropriately to a pay adjustment claim.

The teachers are frustrated that “proper negotiations” on pay have not begun despite a delay of over 10 months after they filed their claim in June 2018.

The union says pay should be adjusted to reflect acknowledge the work carried out by teachers.

But the government has argued that the claim is neither justifiable nor deliverable, and has asked Price Waterhouse Coopers to assess the demands made by teachers.

Gibraltar NASUWT had set a deadline of this week for the government to make a counter proposal to its claim but as of Tuesday afternoon, it had not received a reply.

Following a lawful ballot held by the NASUWT, members have now shown their overwhelming support for industrial action, including strike action.

But union representatives insisted that they remained committed to a negotiated solution to the dispute and said they hoped the two sides could engage positively to that end.

The union said it hoped the “constructive and positive” relationship it has had previously with the Gibraltar Government would help avoid industrial action.

“This result shows the strength of feeling of teachers but we stand ready to resolve this situation positively to secure a resolution,” said Victor Gonzalez, President of Gibraltar NASUWT.

“We have had positive discussions with ministers but we need them to go further and respond positively.”

NASUWT Gibraltar members voted for strike action by 84% on a turnout of 61%.

They also voted 89% in favour of action short of strike action.

Mr Gonzalez told the Chronicle that the union would give the government a short grace period before taking any sort of industrial action, which would likely start with a ‘work to rule’ that stopped short of a strike.

And he added that teachers were “absolutely” committed to avoided industrial action if possible, adding that the welfare of pupils was their top concern.

“Industrial action is the very, very last resort and we will avoid it at all costs if possible,” he told the Chronicle.

“But the result of the ballot shows the strength of feeling of our members.”

Chris Keates, the General Secretary of the UK-based NASUWT, expressed her support for local teachers.

“It is deeply disappointing that given the positive relationship we have enjoyed with the Government, that we were left with no choice but to ballot for action,” she said.

“The ballot result sends a clear message of the depth of teachers’ concerns.”

“Industrial action can be avoided, if there is a genuine commitment to engage with the NASUWT to resolve the dispute.”

“Our aim is a negotiated settlement but ministers should be in no doubt of the determination of our members, if their concerns are not addressed.”

“I look forward to a positive and speedy response from the Government and to engaging in constructive negotiations to resolve the dispute.”