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Unite welcomes Govt change on agency workers

Unite the Union welcomed the Gibraltar Government’s reversal of the Agency Workers Regulations, adding that it is the first step in “tackling the labour market inequality on the Rock”.

This, it said, will improve the conditions for agency workers and will reduce the qualifying period to gain the same rights as their directly-employed colleagues from one year to 12 weeks.

The move comes after Unite challenged the Government to act on promises “to tackle the scourge of insecure work on the Rock”, the union said in a statement.

A demonstration was held in January which saw around 2,000 people take to the street to protest the widespread use of agency and supply workers across private and public sectors.

The union said this was a “key demand” in Unite’s Manifesto for Change in the Labour Market, which was set out in a letter to the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo last month.

This is aimed at providing agency workers with parity of rights with their directly-employed colleagues, such as critical conditions of employment like pay and holidays.

The announcement comes after a series of meetings between Unite and Mr Picardo following the union’s presentation of the manifesto while discussions on further legislative changes around the use of and rights of agency and fixed-term contract workers, as well as a ban on the use of zero-hours contracts, continues.

Stuart Davies, Unite’s national officer for Gibraltar, said that while the union was delighted by the government’s agreement to reverse the qualifying period, it was very much a first step in tackling labour market inequality on the Rock.

“We have also had very positive discussions with the government around the active enforcement of the agency worker regulations to ensure that this progressive legislative change is implemented in practice,” Mr Davies said.

He said the Union in looking forward to discussing the other points in the manifesto, adding that the Chief Minister’s initial response has been “encouraging”.