Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Sunday, November 18, 2007

GGR questions inequality in transfer of MOD workers in Gibraltar

Equality Rights Group GGR Chairman Felix Alvarez has today expressed “alarm and strong concern” for the rights of workers in the MOD, following recent announcements of an agreement which, says Mr Alvarez, “we have recently been told by the negotiating parties is supposed to have brought an end to the injustices originally planned to take effect in detriment of local workers. I shall be taking a close interest in the matter to ensure workers’ rights are not being violated, and in that the workforce has my fullest support.

“However, I have been approached by a number of drivers from the MOD Motor Transport section who have allegedly already been served last week with 7 days notice that they either take or leave a set of new terms regarding conditions of employment which did not form part of their original contract. This may allegedly have been done under the threat that they will otherwise become “surplus to requirement”.

“Contractual amendments of this calibre are, reportedly, not applicable to UK-based employees working in Gibraltar. If this is so, the question of possible unequal treatment will therefore have to be closely examined,” says Mr Alvarez.

“Whilst I have not yet seen the detail of these purported changes, I expect to be fully briefed during this week. The problem seems to be that none of these drivers has been clearly told what becoming “surplus” means. In these circumstances, being asked to sign the new deal within the short decision period given would be tantamount to putting a noose around MOD workers’ necks. Noone can make important decisions on their and their families’ livelihoods when they have not been properly informed of the alternatives before them.”

Alvarez says this would not be in the spirit of what the public has been led to believe regarding the negotiated deal.

“Without prejudging the issue, if this situation turns out to be accurate, it leaves a great deal to be desired, in particular the high-handedness of treating Gibraltar’s long-term and loyal workers with such scant consideration. We will have to see whether, indeed, the changes in the conditions of employment being supposedly foisted upon workers formed any part of the original agreements between the Government of Gibraltar, the Unions and the MOD. I trust that both Government and Unions and all political parties will take the necessary steps to ensure these workers and their rights are not being left in the lurch.

Alvarez added: “Mr Montiel, as the Minister responsible, has a whole lot of explaining to do with these workers in respect of the much trumpeted Government ‘safety net’ to ensure noone falls through it.”