Thursday, February 24, 2005

Caruana pledges full support for Union campaign against MoD “done deal”

Gibraltar Government joins defence privatisation row - Plan is regressive for Gibraltar – Chief Minister Peter Caruana

Chief Minister Peter Caruana yesterday declared that the MoD's announced contractorisation plans are "unacceptable" and will be opposed by the Gibraltar Government.

Speaking at a press conference at Convent Place, Mr Caruana said they were severely damaging to the Rock, economically and socially and further described them as "excessive and disproportionate."

"The Government will take all steps that it lawfully and reasonably can to impede and counteract this regressive plan for Gibraltar," said the Chief Minister while pledging his full support for the trade union opposition to the MoD contractorisation.

Mr Caruana also announced a series of legislative and fiscal measures with significant financial impact on potential contractors, and designed to "minimise the social impact in Gibraltar of the MoD's job loss plans should these go ahead in their present form."

In a hard hitting statement Mr Caruana accused the Ministry of Defence of seeking to impose its 'done-deal' "unilaterally" without prior negotiations with the Unions, and acting "in a cavalier fashion." He also said the MoD were using the term 'efficiency savings' as "a deception, a mere mask for saving money at the expense of valuable jobs and conditions of employment."

Mr Caruana also called on all sectors of the community to unite in their backing of the workers and trade unions affected, and stated that in a frontier economy there is a grave risk that jobs in the military base presently held by locals "will be lost and replaced by jobs for non-residents."

The Chief Minister also noted the loss of employment opportunities for young people as a result of the MoD cuts, and how these translate into loss of PAYE revenue for the Government and probably increased expenditure in social assistance payments.

Meanwhile Mr Caruana formally called on the MoD to engage the Unions in meaningful and sincere negotiations to achieve "a reasonable degree of real efficiency improvements." He added:

While the Government accepts that Gibraltar cannot be exempted from cutbacks that affect the whole MoD around the world and in the UK, the plans for Gibraltar are excessive and disproportionate and represent more than our share of the pain.

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