Saturday, April 16, 2005

Unions to meet Caruana on MoD strategy

After London session : Gibraltar’s trade union leaders are expecting to meet with Chief Minister Peter Caruana, probably Monday, to brief him on their meetings in Britain with the Ministry of Defence.

The looming General Election and uncertainty as to whom will be the next Defence Secretary and Armed Forces Minister has created an element of suspense in the process although there are indications that an effort is being made to broaden the focus of discussion.

This week commenced with the unions responding angrily to comments made by the Commander British Forces Commodore Allan Adair in a Chronicle interview.

But returning to Gibraltar Luis Montiel, TGWU District officer, said that “we must give negotiations a chance.” He indicated that the unions are not seeking conflict with MoD but instead want discussion that allows the new British Government to understand the position in Gibraltar. Mr Montiel said that the election was an opportunity given that there are two ministers to deal with and either new appointees may bring new thinking or equally the unions will have to convince the existing ministers if they stay on.

A major role may be played by union leaders like Jack Dromey who have access to Geoff Hoon, Defence Minister. The local unions, TGWU/ACTS and Prospect are hoping that the weight of the union in Britain on the eve of an election will also help open doors to a more flexible approach.

Meanwhile at the weekend the MOD issued a brief statement that recorded the fact of the meeting held in Transport House, London last Thursday as one “to brief them on the ISP Project proposals”. An MOD Spokesman said:

“Both sides engaged in frank and honest discussions which resulted in a constructive meeting. We stand ready at all times to meet with the trade unions to discuss any issues relating to the ISP initiative.”

The unions meanwhile are preparing to take MOD to court mainly over the failure to consult.

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