Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hour stoppage ‘unjustified’

Social Services Agency

Staff from the Social Services Agency (SSA), Governor’s Parade staged a protest one-hour walk out under pouring rain yesterday morning.

The protestors were supported by the TGWU Branch Officer Charles Sisarello who on Monday had said that there is growing discontent among TGWU members at the Residential Small Unit Group.

The issues of concern to the union are: salary levels and not a fixed wage; manning levels-shortage of staff; job description; a 37 hour week for senior care workers and a review of their salary; overtime rates; supply workers not made permanent despite being employed for a long time.”

But the Agency yesterday replied saying that when it was set up three years ago, it took on all existing employees after negotiating a whole package of measures to which these employees had not been entitled at the time.

These measures are listed by the Agency as:

(a) access to the Gibraltar Provdident Trust (2) Pension Scheme;
(b) new conditions of employment in line with those that apply to the Gibraltar Development Corporation (GDC);
(c) improved sick and annual leave entitlement in line with the Elderly Care Agency (ECA), e.g. from 14 days sick leave on full pay and 28 days on half pay over a 12 month period, to 91 days on full pay and 91 days on half pay over a 24 month period;
(d) an increase in the annual pay review from 0.6% (Index Price Linked) to 3.5% in the first year, and subsequently linked to GDC and ECA;
(e) Shift Disturbance allowance introduced in line with ECA;
(f) Night Duty Allowance increased;
(g) Overtime payment regularised;
(h) differential rates implemented between Senior Support Worker and Support
Worker.

According to the SSA all these improvements were negotiated and agreed with the Union only three years ago. Nevertheless, they said that an ongoing process of discussion over new grievances was initiated with the relevant parties in July.

According to the SSA the Chief Executive of the Social Services Agency met with the Acting District Officer of TGWU/ACTS, Joe Bula, and with staff representatives of the children’s residential units on the 6 July 2005.

“As a result of that meeting, some issues were actioned to the satisfaction of all sides and it was agreed that another meeting should be held in three months. The Union would set a date,” they said.

The SSA adds that on September 21 2005, the District Officer TGWU/ACTS, Charlie Sisarello, wrote to the Chief Executive informing her that he would be holding a general meeting with members of the children’s residential units on the 27 September.

“On that same day, the acting Chief Executive wrote back stating that the Chief Executive, who was away on annual leave, was due back on the 3 October, and asked that the meeting be postponed until her return. No reply was received from the Union and the meeting went ahead without the Chief Executive.

On the 28 September, Mr Sisarello again wrote to the Chief Executive, although already aware of her absence, informing her of the outcome of the meeting and formally setting out the claims. Mr Sisarello set a deadline for a response by the 10 October.

On Friday 7 October the Chief Executive called Mr Sisarello to arrange to meet but Mr Sisarello is unavailable.

On Monday 10 the Chief Executive managed to contact Mr Sisarello and arranges to meet on 14 October. Mr Sisarello accepts to meet but informs her that a one hour stoppage has been planned for the following day and that it would go ahead.”

SSA say that in the light of this it feels that the action taken yesterday morning by the staff, with the blessing of the Union, is “totally unjustified and uncalled for, and does not correspond with the goodwill and willingness for dialogue that the Agency has demonstrated so far”.

Related Article:

11 October 2005 - Union calls for one hour stoppage

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