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Travel concerns as BCA set for industrial action this Friday

Passengers at Gibraltar International Airport. Photo by Brian Reyes

The Borders and Coastguards Agency plans to take industrial action this Friday where workers will “go slow” over “longstanding issues” regarding health and safety concerns.

The public have been advised to make travel arrangements and expect delays at entry and exit points in Gibraltar.

Unite the Union said it has raised several health and safety concerns which have not been addressed and that as a result their members in the BCA will work slowly as from 7am on Friday.

The union described how in recent meetings Gibraltar Government officials have denied the union and its representatives from undertaking a health and safety site inspection of the airport as well as being denied adequate rest facilities.

They added that the Government had also previously excluded BCA management as well as union representatives from a previous inspection.

“Unite was due to take industrial last month on the same issues until HMGOG committed to regular dialogue with the union to resolve these matters,” Unite said.

“However recent meetings have shown that the employer has no interest in resolving the matters for the benefit of staff and the public using the airport on a daily basis.”

In response the Government said it has met the union and its BCA representatives several times, requesting a list of issues that the union seeks to address and to understand whether the union had submitted these through the formal channels.

The Government added it will liaise with the union to seek resolution.

“The union arbitrarily stated that it has in the past but that these remained unresolved,” the Government said.

“Despite this, Gibraltar Airport Terminal Ltd Management has been consulted where they state that there are no outstanding Health and Safety matters pending resolution as detailed in the official reporting system.”

“The union has yet to provide a list of issues, even if informally, of the matters it seeks to address.”

“On the matter of rest facilities, the Airport Terminal has such facilities available for BCA officers to make use of. Many frequently do.”

“Despite this, the Government has not categorically denied the extension of further rest facilities but has instead, judiciously, communicated that any such provision should materialise once certainty of a UK - EU deal concerning Gibraltar is reached, and the resources available at the Airport Terminal by way of footprint are known.”

The Government added that it regrets that the union has chosen to inconvenience the public and business in pursuit of its “unreasonable stance on these matters, particularly so at the beginning of a bank holiday weekend, a time when many will seek to travel or return to Gibraltar, as it is their right to do”.

The Government said it is supportive of work that is safe and fair, but if there are Health and Safety issues of concern to the union's members, they should report them through the official channels.

The GGCA confirmed that it is not part of the action despite respecting Unites decision to do so.

“We believe it important to distinguish the fact that this planned action is not supported by the GGCA, nor has the GGCA membership within the Borders and Coastguard Agency sought to discuss such actions with their representatives,” the GGCA said.

“It is our objective, at this time, to facilitate a peaceful outcome for our members which preserves the vital service that the Borders and Coastguard Agency provides to Gibraltar, which is of utmost importance to the community and those who travel here by air, without the need for industrial action.”

The GGCA said such action would have an inevitable and negative impact on the public.

“This is of particular relevance given the ongoing treaty negotiations, wherein the airport has featured prominently in discussions,” the GGCA said.

The GGCA added it continues to engage with its membership, the leadership at the Borders and Coastguard Agency and the Government, with a view to gather as much information as possible, whilst also respecting the impact that their decision-making will have on the public.

“Lastly, we wish to thank the Borders and Coastguard Agency, who provide a vital service to Gibraltar and who work tirelessly in defence of our airport, frontier and port and who play a critical role with regards to our National Security,” the GGCA said.

“We are committed to supporting them in any way that we can and continue to adopt a collegiate and collaborative approach to protecting them, so that they can continue to protect others.”

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