Saturday, February 26, 2005

No political motives in cuts says Command Secretary

TGWU accuse MoD of “threatening gesture”

TGWU has accused the Ministry of Defence of trying to muzzle the workforce in the current dispute over local contractorisation plans. Speaking to the Chronicle the Union declared that the posting of armed GSP personnel at key points around Gibraltar including car-searches in the area of Chilton Court yesterday, could be interpreted as a “threatening gesture by the MoD.”

Meanwhile, Phil Mallion, Command Secretary, has stated categorically that there are no political motives behind the MoD job privatisation decision. He said so during an interview with GBC on Friday in which he was asked if the move had been in response to the rejection of joint sovereignty.

This is a question of economics. I have been aware of the conspiracy theories as they develop during the week. It is frustrating. This is an MoD economic decision in pursuance of best values for money. It needs to review its services, he said.

The loyalty of Gibraltar to MoD is undeniable but that cannot mean for MoD that we cannot look at our support services and functions and do what we need to improve our value for money. MoD is about defence and it needs to focus on its core services and its core business. Things that it needs to do and is good at doing.

The Command secretary said that for decades the MoD had been looking at contractorising non-core services and getting people to provide what they do well and that the MoD does not do well.

Mr Mallion also revealed that those sections identified for transfer will not be able to opt for an early retirement package although this might be available to some of those people who remain in MoD. Money had been identified for this purpose, he said. That would be looked at next year and MoD would be prepared to talk to the union about early exit packages.

He admitted that the changes planned affect 30% of the workforce and are significant so they were entitled to feel concerned.

We understand that concern which is why it is so important for us to work with the staff and the trade unions to ensure they are clear as to what is happening to them and they understand the implications, he said.

Mr Mallion said it was important that their rights are protected in the transfer to a contractor. He rejected the suggestions that MoD was unwilling to talk to the unions and said that CBF had had two meetings and that the door is open.

The door swings both ways,” he said but he stressed that MoD stands by its decision on the 300 jobs. “We need to talk to the unions about the implications of that change to the staff.

On the advice to personnel to be cautious Mr Mallion said he recognised that this is an emotional issue.

Quite clearly the leaking is unfortunate and the wording may have been unfortunate. The MoD acts in a uniform way to areas and incidents where there might be a volatile reaction. CBF has a duty to see that we minimise the opportunity for confrontation. It is a preventative measure.

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