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Unions put focus on cross-border employment issues

The Interregional Trade Unions Council (South) held an executive meeting yesterday at the offices of Unite the Union in Gibraltar, followed by a meeting with the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo at No6 Convent Place.

The council comprises of four unions, namely Unite the Union and NASUWT Gibraltar and Spanish unions CCOO and UGT.

Adrian Hewitt, NASUWT second vice president, said: “Today’s meeting has been the annual council meeting. The main thing on the agenda today was to discuss the work done this year when we have been mainly setting up IRTUC.”

“This has involved training by the European trade union network and then we have set out the work we have done, with mainly with cross frontier workers that are having issues on both sides of the border.”

In the past year, the council worked within each union to inform members about what it aims to achieve and how it can assist the members should that be required.

“The meeting with the Chief Minister today, apart from being a courtesy call, is to tell him about the work we have been doing, who we are and how our support network can help those who are working across frontiers,” said Mr Hewitt.

IRTUC South is one of approximately 50 such structures in Europe between bordering countries.

In his role as secretary within the council, Mr Hewitt will spend some time looking into how the European trade union network can help finance a lot of the work the council does. In addition, his role involves looking at how the council administers itself.

The council’s goals for the coming year include looking at how they can use the EU’s EURES job mobility portal, which will give them access to European employment services.

“We are also looking at tackling the language barrier,” Mr Hewitt said.

“There is a problem a lot of cross border worker and local workers have because there is a lot of technical language involved.”

“We are going to explore how we can help people with the language, we are not sure yet whether it is through employment services or through universities or schools.”

In addition, Mr Hewitt said: “We are always advocating the free movement of people and goods across the border.”

“Obviously we do not want the border to be used as a tool to punish us in any way.”

“We want the border free flowing for goods and people especially with Brexit up and coming we are all very concerned as to what is going to happen,” he added.

Pic by Eyleen Gomez