The MoD consultation stage on the proposed Operating Model for Gibraltar has come to an end with very mixed reviews, according to the union GGCA. Once the biggest independent employer in Gibraltar it is now a shadow of its former glory, it said it a statement yesterday.
“The transfer of land and buildings from the MoD to the Government of Gibraltar years ago commenced a chain of events which has eroded at the MoD workforce and manifests itself in the new Operating Model.”
Raising strong concerns, the GGCA believes there are numerous areas where the new operating model “does not and will not work as of a result of the MoD not conducting a proper ground level consultation with its own staff” prior to entering into the new operating model.
The GGCA added that although the MOD continued to be open and approachable at all times, offering to continue to engage with the GGCA as they progress through the various areas of concerns of the workforce, they must make it clear that they cannot take a position which does not protect jobs in Gibraltar or guarantee continuity of employment well in the future.
The statement refers to a similar remodelling and cost saving exercise a few years earlier but warns the current proposed losses will be felt the hardest especially with the uncertainty of Brexit on its tail.
The statement questions why the MOD has not placed a hold on the operating model until they had fully studied and understood the real effects of Brexit once initiated through Article 50 in March 2017.
“Only with hindsight can they really and truly believe that the proposed changes are practical bearing in mind that the cut backs are scheduled over the next three years and well into the Brexit negotiations.”
The GGCA statement claims it is quite clear the whole affair has been a pure accounting exercise “with the numbers of locally employed personnel cut by starting with those who have given all their best years of service to reach the top to only be politely offered an exit program with no real hope of continuing their career. Shortly followed over the next two and half years by those who had hoped to reach retirement age having to make the choice to continue in the MoD with little or no chance of progress.”
“We are continually reminded that early retirement will open opportunities for those in the lower grades but this is somewhat misleading as a majority of the posts will either be downgraded or completely lost within the new Operational Model,” further claimed the union.
The statement, however, points out that the GGCA will support all MoD workers who choose to take up early retirement and shall continue to offer its support throughout the process.
“The early retirement package is a far better one than the one offered in the UK and we encourage those considering the offer to seek advice. Workers have been encouraged to decide over the next few weeks if they wish to apply for the program before posts start to disappear. We have come to understand that of the 85 posts to be lost in the MoD it is not a true reflection on the number of personnel who will have to leave the MoD. It may come as a surprise to know that the MoD has held back over a number of years in filing the large number of local vacant posts in Gibraltar of which the majority will shortly be lost under the new operating model. To that extent the MoD has already been making a clear saving over the years therefore why should there be any further cut backs and job losses if the cost saving already exists,” said the statement.
The unions main concern, continues the statement, lies with the balance of the workforce who continue in the MoD and who are expected to bear the brunt of the changes to operating model affecting their conditions of employment and a higher workload even after years of pay freeze.
“We also cannot forget those whose post will disappear and are destined to be moved onto the surplus list waiting to be offered a vacant position elsewhere within the MoD. We have successfully pressured the MoD for the placement term on the surplus list to be temporarily extended from 12 to 36 months to allow ample time for those on the surplus list to take up further training if required.”