Gibraltar

Unite hails first step to tackle labour market inequality in Gibraltar

Unite, the union for workers in Gibraltar, has today (Friday 22 March) welcomed the government’s reversal of the Agency Workers Regulations, which will immediately reduce the qualifying period for agency workers to have some of the same rights as their directly employed colleagues from 52 weeks to 12 weeks.

The move comes after Unite challenged the government to act on promises to tackle the scourge of insecure work on the Rock, following a demonstration in January which saw around 2,000 people march on the streets of Gibraltar in protest at the widespread use of agency and supply workers across the private and public sectors.

Reducing the qualifying period for when an agency worker can access parity with those directly employed by the hirer was a key demand of Unite in its 'Manifesto for Change in the Labour Market' set out in a letter to chief minister Fabian Picardo last month. It will provide agency workers with parity of rights with their directly employed colleagues, such as critical conditions of employment, pay and holidays.

The announcement comes after a series of meetings between Unite and the chief minister following the union’s presentation of the manifesto, while discussions on further legislative changes around the use of and rights of agency and fixed-term contract workers, as well as a ban on the use of zero-hours contracts, continue.

Stuart Davies, Unite national officer for Gibraltar, said that while the union was delighted by the government’s agreement to reverse the qualifying period, which was imposed in 2013, it was very much a first step in tackling labour market inequality on the Rock.

“We are delighted that the undertaking we received from Fabian Picardo during our talks on our Manifesto for Change has been met." he said, "It is a very welcome move which provides agency workers with the right to parity with their directly employed colleagues in a much shorter timescale. We have also had very positive discussions with the government around the active enforcement of the agency worker regulations to ensure that this progressive legislative change is implemented in practice.

“We’re now looking forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with the chief minister on the remaining 14 points of our manifesto. His initial response has been encouraging and Unite is keen to work jointly with the government of Gibraltar to deliver positive changes to the labour market to benefit all those living and working on the Rock, particularly those who endure insecure working arrangements.”

ENDS

For further information call Jennie Walsh on 07958 514695.

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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