Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Opposition condemns MoD cuts

* Base will become inoperable, says Bossano

GSLP/Libs has said it roundly condemns the Ministry of Defence’s contractorisation policy in Gibraltar. In a statement issued yesterday the Opposition describes this as a transparent attempt “to keep a toe-hold in Gibraltar with minimal commitment to resident Gibraltarian workers, and with minimum responsibilities so that at any future date they would be able to pull out virtually overnight.”

In a strongly worded statement, Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano has declared that the MoD “will not be able to operate in Gibraltar” if it does not have the support of the community, of its workforce and the political support which it has enjoyed up to now and taken for granted. A GSLP/Libs spokesman continued:

“The information provided by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, in answer to questions from Lindsay Hoyle in the House of Commons, clearly demonstrates that the current attempt by the MoD to get rid of 300 directly employed local workers and replace their jobs by bringing in a contractor from outside Gibraltar is only the start of the process.”

“Mr Ingram’s statement makes clear that as well as these 300 jobs, there are another 300 jobs likely to follow where discussion was previously held with the Unions in what was then termed an in-house bid. The answers provided by the Minister clearly further identifies other functions done by the balance of 400 workers which are already earmarked for contracting out.”

“The statements made by the Minister in the House of Commons do nothing to reassure the MoD workforce or the people of Gibraltar and, if anything, shows the true intention of the MoD. The Ministry of Defence must understand that they simply will not be permitted by the people of Gibraltar to carry out their plan. The Opposition want to send a message to the MoD workforce of encouragement in their courageous stand against Mr Ingram and of confidence that this is a battle that we can and will win.”

Keetch flies to Gibraltar

Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Spokesman Paul Keetch MP flies to Gibraltar next week on a fact-finding visit following the announcement of planned cutbacks in the Ministry of Defence locally. The visit, which is at the invitation of the Liberal Party of Gibraltar, follows contact between Mr Keetch and Liberal Party Leader Dr Joseph Garcia. Dr Garcia said:

“Mr Keetch is a senior member of the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet and a strong supporter of Gibraltar and has been here in the past for National Day. He is also a member of the All-Party Gibraltar Group in
Parliament. In the House of Commons last year Mr Keetch questioned the UK Government on the issue of cuts to the Gibraltar Regiment which were widely feared at the time.”

“Mr Keetch has been regularly briefed on Gibraltar matters by us over the years at Liberal Democrat Party Conferences in UK. During his visit Mr Keetch hopes to be briefed by affected parties. It is very useful that the Liberal Democrat Defence spokesman is willing to come to Gibraltar and see for himself.”


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