Unite raises concern over ‘insecure contracts’ in Care Agency
Unite the Union has voiced concern at the number and continued use of what it described as “insecure contracts” within the Care Agency, adding these did not benefit staff, service users, families of service users or the employer.
The union said it was “appalled” that numerous short fixed-term contracts continue to be used within the Care Agency.
It said employees had been subjected to short term renewals and terminations of their contracts, which had led to them being in a state of constant financial insecurity.
“This type of employment practice is not helpful to supporting both staff and the service users they look after, it also causes anxiety for the families of the service users, disrupts continuity of care and undermines the vitally important role that the Care Agency plays,” Unite said in a statement.
“It continues to cause low morale as staff who have been on the frontline throughout COVID-19 are now deemed unessential despite years of dedication to the most vulnerable people in our community.”
“Some members have been forced to work on as little as two month rolling contracts which leads to them being in a state of paralysis in being able to plan a future for themselves and for their own careers.”
“Recently, staff who have faced non-renewal of their contracts with no consultation, no formal process and no ability to apply for vacancies.”
“Many have then been offered zero hours contracts with agencies placed back where they were previously working, this represents a massive backwards step in the Gibraltar employment market.”
“This also creates greater uncertainty and difficulty in implementing plans for service users who become accustom to those that care for them.”
According to Unite, trainees coming into the Care Agency had been given mixed messages on their future employment prospects within the Care Agency.
This, it said, placed a number of new recruits in limbo in terms of their future prospects within the Health and Care Sector.
“A lack of clear strategy and direction by the decision makers is preventing the service and its employees reaching their full potential for the betterment of service users,” Unite said.
“As the need for the service continues to grow within the community Unite is expecting the Care Agency and the Ministry of Health to meet the challenge by ensuring that terms and conditions of its own employees are of the highest standards and workers are given the respect and dignity in the workplace that they deserve including certainty and not insecurity in their employment.”
“Over 2,000 people took to the streets of Gibraltar in January 2019 to call for an end to these insecure employment practices and Unite will continue to fight to implement the clear mandate provided by those living and working in Gibraltar that day.”
The union said it continues to consult with representatives and members in respect of these latest challenges, while exploring both industrial and legal remedies to these issues.