Thursday, March 03, 2005

Joint Gibraltar/UK Unions seek urgent meeting with Ingram

•MoD reiterates resolve to privatise

In an unprecedented move the TGWU/ACTS and Prospect in Britain have written a joint letter under both their logos.

The move comes in a bid to defend the interests of their Gibraltar members in which they call for an urgent meeting with Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram.

But, as the unions in Gibraltar met under the umbrella of the Gibraltar Trades Council, Mr Ingram was informing the Commons that the MoD in Gibraltar “will change and adapt to reflect an evolving defence need and the most effective way of delivering it.”

The determination to proceed is being matched by an intense union unity aimed at halting the plans. Responding to the letter from their parent unions the GTC members said the unity in Britain too is a clear message to Commodore Alan Adair, the Commander British Forces, that the trade unions in Britain are “not only supporting our struggle here in Gibraltar but the fight for the Gibraltar MoD workforce by the local trade unions is now also being fought in the UK.” "You the MoD have started this fight, but we will win the battle!” declared the unions defiantly.

In their letter to a senior MoD official the UK unions expressed their bitter disappointment and anger with the way the announcement has been handled especially since they “now seemed to be consulted about the implementation of the decision and not the decision itself.”

Apart from an urgent meeting with Mr Ingram the unions also seek an urgent meeting with officials who can explain the plans in detail as well as the implications and how the MoD intends to deal with the consultation exercise.” In their letter Peter Allenson and Freeda Betts state:

You should be aware that we will do everything we can to defend the interests of our members and whilst we are used to working with MoD to facilitate change the way that this announcement had been made has, I believe, damaged the industrial relations relationship necessary to facilitate such a large scale change.

They make clear that they expect full engagement with the Gibraltar union representatives.

Meanwhile in reply to questions from Doug Hoyle MP in the Commons Mr Ingram said that the MoD currently employs 519 military personnel, 61 UK based civil servants and 1,038 locally employed civilians in Gibraltar.

It was announced last week that, in line with Government policy to obtain best value for defence from the tax payer’s money, we are implementing in Gibraltar the current UK and overseas best practice model for delivering facilities management. This involves outsourcing all the activities of the Gibraltar Defence Estates and the Joint Logistic Unit (except laundry and Motor Transport Engineering which are subject to separate efficiency proposals). Some two military, five UK based civilian and 296 locally employed civilian posts fall within the scope of the contract and are likely to transfer to the successful contractor. In addition to this initiative, a review of the supply of support services (eg janitorial, catering and motor transport) is also underway. The review team has yet to report, but a reduction of about 70–90 posts is likely if an in-house option is secured. If not, up to 300 posts could be contractorised.

In addition, the Defence Communications and Services Agency (DCSA) in Gibraltar is also undertaking a review of its structure to improve effectiveness. It is planned that the DCSA will reduce the total number of staff and change the balance of employee types in favour of locally employed civilians. This is separate from the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) initiative, which is due to impact on Gibraltar in 2007–08 and could lead to further outsourcing proposals. The DII initiative will replace our current administrative IT system. It is too early to assess what the impact will be, but up to 10 posts may be affected. As with all organisations, the MoD in Gibraltar will change and adapt to reflect an evolving defence need and the most effective way of delivering it.

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