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Unite hails progress towards ‘a fairer labour market’

Unite the Union yesterday welcomed the announcements in the Chief Minister’s budget speech towards a more progressive employment market.

In a speech that also contained increases to the minimum wage, it was highlighted that growth and prosperity in the economy was underpinned by a highly regulated employment market.

The Chief Minister made a raft of positive announcements that met the union’s fifteen point “Manifesto for Change”, which was presented to government following the Unite demonstration January 16 when 2,000 people took to the streets of Gibraltar in protest.

These included a commitment for parity of wages and conditions for agency workers in the public sector from day one of engagement, rather than awaiting 12 weeks, a commitment that agency labour should not be used to fill permanent vacancies, the abolition of the Swedish Derogation which enables agencies to by-pass wage parity, positive changes to the regulations on fixed term contracts and the creation of a taskforce of government, unions and business organisations to review the use of zero hours contracts with a view largely to their abolition.

The speech also confirmed that the pay cap would not apply to public sector pay increases, this following robust representations to the Chief Minister from Unite and the other unions on this important issue.   

Stuart Davies, Unite national officer for Gibraltar, said: “Since Unite’s demonstration on the 16th January on the issues of insecure work, the union has been in constructive dialogue with the government around the union’s agenda for a progressive labour market in Gibraltar, one that seeks to provide security of employment and remove inequity.”

“The Chief Minister has engaged positively in that debate which has culminated in the budget announcements today.”

“We will need to review the detail of the announcements once published; however in addition to the twelve week qualifying period legislation change made in March, today’s budget speech does appear to have addressed the remaining fourteen points of the union’s agenda.”

“I have oft repeated the phrase that our members want progress not promises, today represents a day of significant progress for workers in Gibraltar.”

“It was also refreshing to hear, correctly, that a successful economy can be built on a highly regulated employment market, rather than politicians citing the need for a laissez faire employment market, one with less protection and security for workers to boost economic growth.”

“There remains much work to be undertaken on this agenda, but today is a very big step in the right direction and coupled with the announcements on strengthening rights under TUPE, another issue the union has campaigned on and the removal of the public sector pay cap, the future labour market is looking that much fairer.”