Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bossano demands secure employment for locals from MoD

GSLP/Libs has declared that if the MoD want to remain in Gibraltar they have to provide secure UK parity based jobs for locals, “otherwise we are perfectly entitled to question why we want them here in the first place.”

In a statement issued yesterday Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano said that the only way the MoD is going to do this is if the work continues to be done by direct employment and not by contractors.

Mr Bossano said:

The question answered by Minister Adam Ingram in the House of Commons regarding whether TUPE rules apply to the transfer of jobs planned by the Ministry of Defence in Gibraltar is not the issue as far we are concerned. From the beginning the MoD have been arguing that under EU law bringing in a contractor to replace MoD workers requires that contractor to offer the existing workers their existing jobs on their existing pay and conditions. Nobody has ever suggested that it would be otherwise. Of course, the MoD has made quite clear from the beginning that any contractor giving employment to their workers on existing pay and conditions would waste no time in taking steps to reduce the number and worsen the conditions in order to be able to provide a cheaper service for the MoD. Therefore the terms that apply at the point of the transfer are totally irrelevant.

The MoD made clear in its original briefing that the nationality of the contractor and of future occupants of those jobs was a totally open question. For his part, Mr Caruana said in the House of Assembly that Government was taking legal advice as to whether transferring employees and their jobs only, but not the assets or the premises where they work, meets the criteria to constitute a transfer of undertakings. As far as we are aware, in UK there have been many such transfers and nobody has suggested that it does not meet the definition of a transfer of undertakings.

However, the Opposition wishes to make clear that all these other issues are basically peripheral, since even if they were put right, the fundamental issue would remain. The plain fact is that the only way the MoD is going to provide secure employment on civil service pay and conditions, based on parity with UK and with 90% of the workforce being Gibraltarian is if the work continues to be done by direct employment and not by contractors or sub-contractors.

Whether the way they want to do it is the same as UK or different does not alter the question of principle at the heart of this issue one way or the other. The principle at stake is a simple and straightforward question. If the MoD want to remain in Gibraltar they have to provide reasonably paid jobs with civil service pay and conditions for Gibraltarians, otherwise we are perfectly entitled to question why we want them here in the first place.

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