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Unite calls for an end to MoD 'austerity pay'

Unite the Union has called for an end to austerity pay in the Ministry of Defence, highlighting the loss in real earnings faced by its members here as a result of UK restraints on MoD salaries.

A delegation of Unite representatives and members from the MoD last week met with senior lay officials and also the union’s UK officer with national responsibility for the MoD, Caren Evans.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the on-going impact of pay restraints imposed by the MoD as part of the UK government’s austerity measures.

A pay claim was formulated to tackle and address the reduction in the real earnings that MoD employees in Gibraltar, who have experienced a decade of pay restraint even while the Rock's economy boomed.

The claim, once finalised, will be presented to the Joint Forces Command in the UK.

It will seek to protect the historic and hard fought parity agreement, but simultaneously combat the earnings pressure that Unite members engaged in the important work of the MoD are experiencing.

Caren Evans, Unite officer with national responsibility for the MoD, said: “Following the UK conservative government’s failed austerity programme introduced in 2010, MoD workers in Gibraltar have suffered the same wage restraints as their UK counterparts and have experienced a real terms reduction in their earnings."

"This contrasts with the wider public sector in Gibraltar which has experienced pay increases of least inflation which has led to a wage disparity of an estimated 30% since the introduction of the UK austerity measures when compared to the MoD."

"There is much talk of Gibraltar having successfully avoided austerity when the rest of Europe dived into recession as a result of the global financial crisis; however austerity is alive and unfortunately kicking here in the form of pay restraint in the MoD”.

“Following a successful meeting with Unite representatives and members from the MoD we are close to finalising a pay claim that will seek to meet the aspirations of our membership and to claw back the real terms loss in wages and the standard of living."

Ms Evans said that both the public and private sectors in Gibraltar continued to grow and contribute to the successful Gibraltarian economy.

She said the MoD and Unite's members working there remained a vital cog in that economic wheel, "but are being choked off by UK led austerity".

"The union does not underestimate the size of the task before us and Unite calls upon all political parties in Gibraltar to swing behind the union’s campaign to address wage restraint in the MoD," she said.

"Pay austerity does not benefit MoD workers nor does it benefit Gibraltar and its economy."

REACTIONS

The GSD noted Unite the Union’s statement on the pay claim they will be tabling to the MoD to redress a real terms loss in wages because of policies adopted by the UK Government.

“The GSD is supportive of the Union’s bid to cure historic imbalances caused by UK Government policy," said GSD Leader Keith Azopardi.

"Clearly MoD workers have been impacted by policies adopted in the UK."

"These policies have not factored in any unique Gibraltar issues and will have created disparities and real loss in value of earnings over the last few years."

"This will have affected the standard of living of workers and their families. The GSD hope the MoD and Union will find a practical way forward that will meet the aspirations of MoD workers as soon as possible.”