Thursday, May 26, 2005

MoD Contractorisation hearing set for June

Legal battle-lines are drawn

The Ministry of Defence will try to block the trades unions’ legal case against local privatisation plans at a two-day hearing in June, the Chronicle has learned.

In the opening session of what could prove to be a lengthy and complex case, MoD lawyers are first expected to question whether or not the legal challenge can actually be heard in a Gibraltar court.

The issue of jurisdiction seems set to be a crucial point of conflict.

In a related development, the Chronicle has also learned from a senior British source that no Spanish companies have expressed any interest in the privatisation contract. Among many other concerns over the privatisation, workers had feared that they might end up employed by a company from Spain.

Lawyers from both sides in the dispute will meet tomorrow with the Chief Justice, Derek Schofield, to discuss practical procedures ahead of the hearing, which is set for June 20 and 21.

Lawyers acting for the Transport and General Workers’ Union/ACTS and Prospect served the legal claim on the MoD earlier this month. They are calling on the court to halt the privatisation process and oblige the ministry to review its plans.

TGWU/Acts and Prospect are represented locally in this joint action by law firms Hassans and Attias & Levy respectively. The MoD is represented locally by Isola & Isola, though British Government lawyers in the UK are also closely involved.

Up to 300 local civilian jobs could be hit by the controversial proposal announced by the MoD earlier this year, though the unions fear the total will be higher within the broader programme of MoD cuts.

A number of private companies have already sent ‘expressions of interest’ to the ministry, which will now have to assess those documents before inviting selected companies to submit bids. But that procedure, though not formally on hold, is moving at a very slow pace while the legal challenge by the unions is resolved.

One source with intimate knowledge of the process said “a healthy number” of companies – none of them from Spain - had expressed interest in the contract.

Related Links:

Gibraltar News Online Contractorisation Poll

12 May 2005 Unions escalate MoD dispute

19 April 2005 Unions declare a united front on MoD Contractorisation

15 April 2005 No progress in Union-MoD Contractorisation talks

12 April 2005 MPs urge Hoon to halt ‘Done Deal’

05 April 2005 MoD rejects Union lawsuit threat


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