Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Public sector conditions ‘unrealistic,’ say business leaders

Chamber report calls for civil service reform

The Government’s recent acknowledgement of the difference between public and private sector employment practices “highlights the responsibility that the Government has to control the growth in public sector employment” the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce Annual report has said. It stresses “the huge disparity that exists between public and private sector pay”.

Where private sector pay and conditions are dictated by the job market - which in many sectors extends beyond our borders - pay and conditions in the public sector are dictated by parity with the UK… and the consequent pressure that the threat of industrial action brings if these conditions are not met.

The report acknowledges that in the past parity with the UK “may have been a fair mechanism to set public sector pay”; however it no longer seems relevant as there are many cases where employees receive greater remuneration than their counterparts in Britain.

It is unacceptable that public sector employees should be allowed to cherry pick the terms and conditions that they would like from UK agreements, reject those that they would prefer not to have, and then call for strike action when negotiations don’t go their way.

The Gibraltar Chamber also expresses concern that while the public sector has grown significantly in the past eight years there has not been “any appreciable improvement in the services it provides”. It adds that terms and conditions of employment within the Public Service are “unrealistic” with Civil Servants continuing to enjoy retirement at 55 on a two-thirds pension, summer hours and levels of pay which would be unaffordable in the private sector.

The fact that 66 per cent of Government employees earn more than £25,000 annually compared to just over 18 per cent in the private sector earning a similar amount, serves to illustrate how public sector pay has escalated over the years. Government could make a good start by reforming parts of the Civil Service and ensuring that it delivers a high standard of service to the private sector – which, after all, is the engine of the economy,” says the report.


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