Tuesday, April 12, 2005

MPs urge Hoon to halt ‘Done Deal’

MoD contractorisation

Following the meeting last week in the Houses of Parliament in London between the Chief Minister Peter Caruana and the All Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group, the following is the text of a letter sent by the All Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group (signed by one of its Vice Presidents, Simon Hughes MP on behalf of the Group) to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

“A number of House of Commons colleagues from all three major parties and from Northern Ireland, and colleagues from the Lords (all members of the All Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group), met together this week before parliament was prorogued. We had previously been briefed by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar who was in London and who had also come to answer our questions on the attitude of the Gibraltar government, MoD employees and the public in Gibraltar to the reorganisation of the MoD in Gibraltar.

Colleagues across the parties here are greatly concerned. We therefore write to request that you and HMG agree to proceed no further with the current plans until after an early opportunity is taken following the general election to seek an agreement as to the way forward by the workforce, their unions and your department.

Only a few weeks ago, government here agreed that proposals for changing arrangements for work and pensions across the public sector in the UK would not after all be implemented until there had been a further opportunity to negotiate an agreed solution with the workers and unions concerned. These negotiations will clearly begin after the general elections.

We ask for a similar approach by you and by the MoD as far as Gibraltar is concerned.

Our understanding is that the trade unions and the work force in Gibraltar fully accept that the government has the right to seek efficiency savings in the activities of the MoD in Gibraltar. We understand also that they have at no time said that they will not co-operate in seeking to agree a way of achieving these efficiencies.

There is however real anger and frustration, shared by your parliamentary colleagues here, that government has simply announced its intentions as a done deal and in a way that would not only involve the contractorisation of the majority of the jobs but a prospective further loss of several hundred jobs as well. The effect on pay, pensions, job security, employment and the wider economy of Gibraltar as a whole is of course extremely serious.

Colleagues in the Lords and all those of us in the Commons who are re-elected are very willing to meet with you (or your successor if you were to be replaced) at the earliest possible opportunity after parliament reconvenes on May 14th.

We do hope you will take our very strongly felt request with the seriousness we send it.

We look forward to a reply which we hope will confirm that this request can be granted.”

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