Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Union set for battle on MoD

- Private sector –‘tremendous problems’

This will not be an easy battle, but one thing is for sure, that we will fight it to the end, Charlie Sisarello TGWU Branch Officer said this weekend.

He outlined the Union vision for the private sector and said there are “tremendous problems ahead”.

TGWU/ACTS Branch Officer Charles Sisarello May Day Message

May 1 is when we celebrate workers day. This is the only union that commemorates this day. For the last 3 years, the TGWU/ACTS has made this day an important event for the labour movement, its members and families.

Apart from the trade union significance of today, we have also prepared a fun day for all to enjoy. It is also an occasion for all trade unionists and progressive people to get together. It is true to say that the vast majority of union sided labour, works in the public sector, where we have been able to achieve improvements in pay, conditions and pensionable rights. There are only two employers – the Gibraltar Government and the MoD. The British Government decision to privatise the MoD has created a critical situation for the trade unions, which is and will be fought at all levels, legally, politically and as a trade union, with the support and solidarity of all the labour movement. This will not be an easy battle, but one thing is for sure, that we will fight it to the end.

In the private sector there are areas where workers are unionised and the trade union together with the members involvement have managed to achieve pay, conditions and pensions agreement. Unfortunately, and this is a challenge to this union, there are other areas namely, the commercial, catering, security firms, tourism where there is lack of union members and participation, the result, low pay, bad conditions and no pensionable rights.

The trade unions and more specifically the TGWU/ACTS must get fully involved in this sector, which can only be described as a jungle. As a union if we cannot improve the pay, conditions and labour rights of these workers, the consequence of a failure to achieve these goals, will put the public sector employment under threat at the same time.

The public sector must also provide a better service in order to survive, or what is now fashionable value for money.

Another issue of importance for working people are the social benefits, which can only be described as of third world standard. Unemployment benefit is only available for 13 weeks and a ridiculous sum paid to recipients.

Sick leave legal entitlement is a scandal. The vast majority of private sector employees are only allowed to be sick for only two weeks, regardless of whether they have undergone surgery, broken a limb, etc.

All in all, there are tremendous problems ahead of us, which we need to resolve there is only one way to respond to the challenges ahead, by working together and more participation in the trade union movement of working people, first of all by joining the union and at the same time getting involved in decision taking. The stronger we are, the more we can achieve.

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