Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Public Service Debate

I was going to write on the issues arising following the recent visit of the Minister for Europe but I have had too many requests to start a debate on the Civil Service "package".  I will write a short piece to start the debate but will do so seeking answers by stating opinion in an inquisitive spirit.

It seemed to me that the package as a whole is reasonable but there are obviously Union members who have issues and questions on which the Union owes them explanations and answers. That said, there has to be give and take in today's world and reasonable discussion and solutions within the Union and with Government as employer.

Modernising services and terms of service is essential. Public servants need to be well rewarded but today's economic circumstances in the world require that long term commitments are kept under control. The alternative is to bequeath to our children an unaffordable burden.

What I would question is the right of the Union of today to trade off benefits gained for their present members for sacrifice by future workers, which some feel is what may be happening. There is no simple solution to this conundrum. I believe that an element of altruism has to be brought into play so that present employees sacrifice something for the greater good of Gibraltar as a whole.

This brings me to the second issue consultation, openness and transparency. Employees cannot be asked to make sacrifice without full information and consultation by the Union that represents them. The message that seems to be filtering out is that there has not been enough consultation or time for members of the Union to study and consider the package. If that is the case bulldozing even a good package is anti-democratic. It is sad because if in substance the package is good but it is defeated for procedural failings by the Union then the net loser is Gibraltar and the Union, which represents its members.

A reminder of what is happening in government generally?


  1. Both the unions and the civil service are greedy and are holding Gibraltar to ransom. For too many years too many governments have given in to their demands under the fear of losing votes.

    What we have is a very large sector of society who are over paid, under worked, over privaledged and year after year demand more and more.

    It is unacceptable for this collective to demand "parity" with the uk for years. Why they got parity, when the cost of living and economic conditions in Gibraltar is nowhere near UK, is beyond me. Now we have a global recession and pay freeze in the UK and they DEMAND a pay rise because pay has been frozen in the UK. Thats "pan mantecado por los dos lados".

    Final salary pensions don't exist anywhere anymore, just get rid of them passing the relavant legislation or acts or whatever. End of story, there is no need to negociate with anyone, its a fact of life that the economy of any sensible nation can't afford them.

    I hope someone will one day have the courage to sort out this mess, cull the civil service and get rid of this burdon which is going to be hanging from our necks for generations to come.

    Jobs 4 life.


  3. Most businesses are suffering in silence. The new strict tax regime has caught many on the hop. Tax enforcement is necessary but it comes at a time when trade is slow and the banks are not lending. The bureaucracy is still clumsy and generally the civil service is not sensitive to the economic needs of the private sector. For those business people and their employess who battle day in and day out to make ends meet the civil servants' claim for e.g. "family friendly hours" adds insult to injury. I will vote for whatever party looks more likely to remind the civil service that they are there to serve the general community and not vice versa. Ya va bien de cachondeo.

  4. Well said Robert. Elements of the "package" are good, but because the package has been railroaded by a Government in a mad rush to overcome potential pre-election pitfalls, the result has been lack of communication, poor information and ultimately failure. The unions have (scandalously) played their part in this failure, by appearing to be more concerned with getting a quick implementation of the "package" than in informing their members of the contents and providing an adequate system of consultation. The unions are there to protect their members' interests, not to aid the Government of the day to execute a pre-election agenda.

    During last night's Viewpoint, one caller (herself a member of the GSD executive and one-time electoral agent of the party) called in to call Michael Netto a "disgrace". The only "disgraceful" thing about last night was that representatives of the governing party should seek to use debate over the public service deal to further their narrow partisan interests.

  5. Pl note that family friendly hours is what the Govt wants to introduce as a concession but is in fact an eu requirement!

  6. If "family friendly hours" are an EU requirement why are they not available in the private sector? The answer is because if the private sector had all the perks and advantages of the civil service the economy would collapse - there are already enough pancistas in the latter. Another question why does UNITE not campaign for "family friendly" hours in the private sector? ANSWER because they know it would be madness.

  7. Last night's Viewpoint programme was an embarrassment and an insult to viewers! What is meant to be a discussion programme morphed itself into a "patio de vecinos" with GBC all of a sudden morphing into Tele5 and Viewpoint falling to the depths of a Salvame Deluxe!

    Shameful that the Unions did not attend the programme - their absence says a lot and gives the impression that they are being completely controlled by Government. The GSD callers came across as being desperate - Terry Cartwright's statement that "everyone seems to be very pleased with the package" doesn't ring true when everyone seems to have voted against it. Perhaps if they are pleased with it, she could have explained why it was voted against.

    The guy representing the teachers union at least had the decency to go along to the programme but came across as a Govt supporter because he did little to explain his support for the package when in reality teachers are not really affected by it!

    This whole Civil Service Reform thing is a scandal. The little clauses mentioned smack of Govt wanting to retain certain powers to aide their blue eyed biys without having to "dar cuenta a nadie". The wanting to rush things smells of wanting to get this done quickly before anybody has time to read the little print and find out that they are in fact the recipients of unwanted goods via the backdoor and no vaseline was included in the order!

    Again, with all this, Government is only making things clearer to the electorate. Let us hope that Gibraltar does indeed wake up in time for the next election. Que en Gib pocos nos chupamos un dedo, so let us start acting as such!

  8. The whole charade with the Civil Service (CS) is sad to say the least. I for a start, do not agree with anons above 00:00 00:08 and 08:03 Why? Simples!! I am in the private sector and there are many who give the inpression they are the victims of society and that they are worst off than the CS. That is simply NOT TRUE. Like in any company and institution you will always have dead wood but there are many who are competent, hardworking and deserve every praise given. In the CS there are also deadwood and it should be the heads of department who should be allowed to do something about this. Many times what happens is that people are promoted on the back of an excellent report from Heads of dept to rid themselves of some individuals.

    Having said the above I believe the solution is not CS bashing since that would indicate ignorance of reality.

    What has emerged from all this that the Union leadership has not taken the rersponsibility of leading with uppermost in their minds the people who they are supposed to be representing.

    It is they who have failed their members. Consultation should have been done with at every stage in the negotiation instead of at the last minute and then expect them to ratify something that they do not want.

    I would go even further and say that History has shown how many union leaders (Netto, Montiel, Reyes)have used the Union as a spring board to further themselves personally as oppose to doing it for altruistic reasons. I will not buy the argument that there aren't any any more.
    And by the way before GSD sychophant bit my head on Bossano using the union they should go back and read why the GSLP was formed in the first place ie the Union collectively decided to have a political party to battle the then Hassan Govt.

    To say that no Government has had the courage to do anything about the CS is not quite correct since I remember many CS and some even now complain about how the GSLP cut down on manning levels, made many CS post obsolete and that they would not replace them.

    Let not forget what the GSD used to say then. Things like the GSLP are anti establishment and they want to get rid of many CS. So to the caller from viewpoint last night La que se enfundio con Michael Netto, i say that it is not a good deal and that your darling Mr Caruana used to say that the GSLP was going too far etc, etc.;
    Que pronto se le olviden las cosas a la gente cuanto no interesa!!!

  9. GSD executive members calling to insult Netto publicly. The GSD trying to pass EU required concessions (or so anon 12:41 states) as part of "their deal".

    Seems to me they are getting pretty damn desperate as of late.

    Just a thought, just a humble thought....


  10. Government needs to de-politicise the civil service and give the authority to the many good and capable civil servants that are capable of embarking their respective departments into well-managed,productive,customer orientated arrears of public service.

    The government together with the unions are trying to privatise the public sector, lets not forget that this is not to benefit Gibraltar but to benefit those who have links to the GSD and happen to have a company that can provide a service already been given by a government department.

    The Government wants to sell the civil service to their close supporters.

    Think airport and how many millions have been paid on consultancy work!

    Lat week rumour circulated that the GSLP had organised the demonstration. No one to date can prove this and the reality is that GSD executive members called last nigh ton view point to insult an honest man. Mr Netto was simply fighting for his principles who by the way at least of 65% of those balloted believe in also.Lets not forget that the negotiating right belongs to the GGCA therefore this ballot should count for everyone as established by law.


  11. Valiente gentusa llamaron al programa de viewpoint a noche. La del executive del GSD definitely showed her colours.

    She obviously tried hard to discredit Michael Netto. But one thing is blatantly clear is that the way she conducted herself it just typical of the arrogance, despotism and basic lack of democratic credentials.

    An hour later I watched question time on BBC hosted by Dimbleby and one Christina Adone Journalist from the telegraph puso al coalition govt de rico trapo pero con un talante y una educacion que I wished that some people from the GSD would take note and learn.

    The facts are getting clearer and clearer Gibraltar will no longer put up with these people insulting as a matter of course and with this arrogance that they thing they know best and others are just a "disgrace".

    I have know Michael Netto for years and quite frankly I have had many differences with him but one thing is clear he is a man who has always had the union at heart and he can also agree to disagree.
    What is totally unacceptable and especially since in this blog we have discussed freedom of speech and to be able to air your views even those who support the GSD which they do on various occasions is the fact that these GSD people think that they have the god given right to believe they can insult and treat people con la punta d'pie.

    This is type of the attitude that has pervealed from the GSD Leadership during their time in power.
    What is sad is that some people within the GSD can be decent and buena gente but unfortunately cannot realise that these people who insult and try and denegrade people in the manner that the three callers from the GSD (That includes A Hewitt, L Olivero and T Cartwright)did last night is no longer acceptable.

    I remember all the criticism that GSD toffee nosed supporter used to level at "los bajunos del GSLP" Now we should be highly critical of these people and reject their attitude.

  12. Last night Mrs Cartwright was superb and if she believes 'everyone is very pleased with the package', who are we to argue.

    Mr Caruana must very proud of her.

  13. Las cosas tienen que estar bastante mal en el GSD cuando llamaron tres activists and they made no attempt to disguise their "rage" live on air. Even more shocking was that GSD Pillar Mrs Cartwright phoned in!!!

    Their intervention in the programme did little to help I thought. It in fact painted the picture of a party in trouble who are clinging on to power by the fingernails.

    Even more alarming for the party is the lack of response they seem to have had to "Party organised events and functions" of late with many activists and supporters having jumped off the sinking ship! I know cos I was on one of the lifeboats lol


    The civil service reform package was rejected by 65% of voting GGCA members primarily for one sole reason: they absolutely do not want GDC staff, with whom they work side by side in many cases, to be integrated into the civil service.

    The solution is simple: by all means analogue GDC staff's pay to civil service pay scales but GDC executives must be kept apart as a separate body which is barred from applying for civil service posts.

    The mere mention of integration has only served to create tension and ill-feeling between civil servant and GDC colleagues working in the same department. Yet another botched job by the Government that is showing by the day that it is in its last throes.

  15. Perhaps questions need to be asked and answered.

    Por ejemplo:

    Are any of these individuals members of a political party?

    Do any of the union leaders have any political ambitions?

    If so, would this not create a conflict of interest?

    Have any of these leaders somehow benefited, directly or indirectly from their alleged allegiance with Govt.?

    Are any of these ‘unions’ subsidized directly or indirectly by Govt.

    How come that the president of the ggca never seen? ¡Nunca da la cara!

    Many more questions come to mind but for now, vamos a dejarlo ahí.

  16. its seems to me, this whole issue has been handled very badly indeed, and its taken this shambolic state of affairs to finally awaken the civil service from its hypnotic trance.
    Many years ago, when Joe Bossano attempted to reform it, the Civil Service were up in arms, and turned their back on him and the GSLP, yet despite their passionate self-defence 16 years ago, they have sat back since and allowed the present Government to get away with the most unthinkable of acts .
    Senior posts, once occupied by senior civil servants who had taken many years to rise through the ranks, have been handed out to employees of joint venture companies or GDC, like, for example, Head of Trade & Industry.
    Heads of departments having to attend very regular meetings at No 6, despite having a Minister directly in charge of them, Housing being one of them, where the CM gets to assist in the daily departmental decision taking.
    Lets not forget all the additional staff employed at No 6 itself.
    And then there's the GDC, which has served to employ some who would otherwise have not been able to go very far within the CS framework and promotion rules. After all, why wouldn't these members of staff have applied to the CS in the first place, if not because they lacked the necessary qualifications or other similar requirements for entry.

    The time has come for the Civil Service to question the leadership of its Unions, and to refuse to be forced into an agreement drawn up with other's interests at heart.

    Anna Conda

  17. what would happen to the top well-remunerated executives of the GDC? Would they become civil servants too?

    One in particular, earning £200K, has enjoyed a special tax status since his recruitment. How would this be affected? In fact, what are the details of this special tax arrangement? Does it include free health-care and free education (including university tuition fees and student grant) for his family?

    I don't know of any civil servants with these kind of perks!

    El Mono Amedio

  18. just want to say , without stirring things up , that the last great union man was joe bossano . yes he used it for his own political advantage but things where run like a union should be run . especially consultation with members . perhaps jaime comes in second but very far away . all the rest seem to have been more in consonance with the government than members . they used to say that under luis the union was in a very bad state but now its even worse . and it is run by the same people who ousted luis out . bossano should retire from politics and come back to transport house . i for one would welcome him back with open arms . long live the unions . from a union activist albeit bored and not taking part in any union activities no more . 30 years as a union member and counting .i will remain anonymous for fear of goverment and union reprisals

  19. In my humble opinion I perceive the unions (both Unite and the GGCA) to be nothing more than an extended arm of the GSD Government.

    It all started with the “patio chico” fiasco then things started to escalate.

    From the Moroccan unions spat to the Civil Service demonstration, which culminated in the majority NO vote.

    Such a pattern does make one wonder what other “ undemocratic surprises” the GSD administration have in store for us.


  20. Well, Well the 7 days (the GSD rag) is at it again.
    What is interesting is that it has used the same tactic as the GSD sychophants in this blog. The article entitled DANGER, as those here lack substance and is just out to try to discredit Fabian Picardo and the opposition generally.
    It is becoming more and more obvious that the GSD is on the run and out of ideas.
    It is becoming increasingly dirty and quite frankly the opposition have not even started.
    I hope for the sake of GIBRALTAR that they just ignore them.
    We have seen how the GSD Executive member or former member reacted to Michael Netto on viewpoint. I consider her behaviour to have been disgraceful.
    Albert Hewitt another GSD supporter behaving in a disgraceful manner and now this from the 7 days.

    It is no wonder that the Civil Service is doubting the deal when the "salemen" are the Unite leadership.
    the most sensible thing that all members in unite should do is to have a vote of no confidence on the leadership.
    I just hope that honest people like Michael Netto, Luis Gonzalez, Christian Duo, Wally Martinez and others from the district committee and some of them who where at the demo will now take a motion to oust these people.

    One would have thought that the GSD supporters and members would also reject this type of disgraceful attitude since they have also claimed to be "ON THE HIGH MORAL GROUND"
    I'm sure you have all heard this from the GSD before!!??
    It would be interesting to have the new candidates who post in this blog (Anonymously by the way)giving us their opinion on this behaviour.
    I therfore agree with anon 21:22 when he says

    "I remember all the criticism that GSD toffee nosed supporter used to level at "los bajunos del GSLP" Now we should be highly critical of these people and reject their attitude."

    I also remember!!!!

  21. Anon 22:01. Impressive stuff! You may want look at the diatribe that The Key or The New People post on a regular basis.
    As to the unions and your reference to the GSD arm; it's called negotiations, dialogue, meeting people in this case substantially more than half way. I can appreciate that it presents a concern to the GSLP - without the unions causing issue and threat they would struggle.

  22. anon @ 21:01: so true!

    so the 'new candidates' are posting anonymously? that makes sense. They appeared, guns blazing and on the attack, and suddenly, without as much as a by your leave, they disappeared.

    the question to be asked is 'why?'

    Were they scared off by the voices of dissent, freely engaging in debate and questioning their statements?

    or were they pulled back by He who shall be obeyed?

    either way, it says little for them and their leader but a lot about the way situations are handled here, including the Civil Service Reforms debacle!

  23. anon @ 21:15, impressive stuff indeed.

    Do you think the 7 days is to the GSD, what the Key & the New People are to the GSLP?

  24. Anon 21:28. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
    And the penny drops. Although 7 days is mild by comparison.

  25. To Anon 21:15
    There is a saying that goes "Por la boca muere el pez"
    Whether The Key or The New People write diatribe or not is missing the point completely but then again you are probably not interested in the fact that you have for one admitted by default that the 7 Days is a Rag of the GSD and secondly that it contains diatribe as might do the other two.
    I thank you for your contribution sice you prove my point.
    Wonder whether you will consider standing for the GSD!!!!!:)

  26. Anon 21:15

    It was I who referred to the unions as the GSD’s “arm”.

    Negotiations, dialogue, and meeting people half way is exactly what is needed.

    I am not sure in what Gibraltar you live in, but in this Gibraltar the Civil Service REJECTED the Government/Unions proposal. For the lack of all the above listed diplomatic means (or so the majority have stated).

    Impressive stuff indeed :)


  27. Anon 21;54 would like to add that the 7 Days obtains a lot of money from Government advertisement which is another point which is admitted by anon 21;15

  28. I see the hounds are out. At this rate and at the level and speed of the response it will be a landslide. On the other hand it might just be same old same old.

  29. Yes, The same old!!
    BTW I do not consider myself as a hound but a realtist:)

  30. and the 7 days kicks off the very dirty war to be waged on Fabian Picardo in the lead up to the next election...

    but, in the words of Fabian himself 'the harder he insults, the more damage he has suffered and the more he and his satellites needs to obscure through insult and distortion'.

    so ridicule, insult, attack if you must, but know this, the membership of the GSLP stand behind Fabian on the eve of his leadership election, and just as they have seen through the lies and deceit of the GSD, so to have the Civil Servants, who have been brave enough to stand up to your Leader, and refuse him the opportunity to pay back political favours. Your ship is sinking so fast, your feet should be getting wet soon!

  31. Robert,
    Do you not miss Ghost and the rest of the GSD brigade?
    Has the Supreme Commander In Chief ordered a tactical retreat??

    Paca Garse

  32. political parties are the same whether we like it or not.when they get into goverment "escoba nueva barre muy bien después te aburre porque deja de limpia bien,en los gobierno's todoall es miel al empezar y después lo dulce sabe amargo.maybe we could give a try at leaving aside personality voting or party voting which has been dominating gib politics since time immemorial, at the end of the day what ever we vote we can throw away or keep the old broom as we've done before, the same could happen to the GSD.Only GOD last's forever the rest of us are here temporay.

  33. It is incredible that the government has forsaken the public sector for so long.When the new hospital was built it was his baby and managers there could do as they please now its the airport and again managers do as they please but once the fever is over the CM goes back to these departments and really restricts matters up in terms of resources given.They only give the resources while the subject of the project is at public domain once this is over then they disregard it.Just look at the hospital front!!!!

    Government needs to realise that not everything in life is about throwing money at projects, there are elements of planning and what makes a government worthy of being in power is the ability that such government will have to admit failures.This Government never assumes such failures and i have never seen any government minister or the CM giving an apology. Have they never done anything wrong in 16 years?Anyone with a certain degree of personal integrity will agree that this government is as arrogant and self-scented as it can possibly be in a democratic system.

    There are cases were public money is simply being thrown down the drain and government knows about it however nothing is done very simply because it is politically incorrect!

    This government has been on power now for very long and by now we gibraltarians have realised their modus- operandi.It is always the same after winning the election nothing gets done or very little and again in election year all goodies come out.This is fact and anyone not agreeing is simply living in another world.

    I am very worried of what this government is leaving our children for the future given the way they are handling our finances.Will our future children be able to enjoy free schools,medical care or social help?
    Maybe someone from the GSD can explain this as i fail to comprehend the manner the government is conducting financial affairs.In my humble opinion we should have reserves for a rainy day and never pretend what we are not i.e MONACO!!!!!!!


  34. No matter how much money we throw at trying to make this place like Monte Carlo, Gibraltar will never be a Monaco because of the levanter!

  35. Mark.(15th 23:44) Why should GDC execs be barred from applying for CS jobs? And what about people who are outside of both CS and GDC? Should they be barred too? Are you afraid that the perks that you and your cronies get will be diluted? or do you want the plum jobs to be reserved for your kids?

  36. Anon 2135

    I think we should all have the same obligations and privileges and surely those on GDC deserve to be better off but i still think that supply workers are worse than those employed by the GDC hence they should be also looked into as a matter of priority.

    Some school teachers have been employed on a supply basis for 5 years also supply cleaners and many more!!!


  37. OK, D.(21:56) True. But who is going to pay for it all?

    Many private sector taxpayers cannot retire at 65 let alone 55. They do not have a big pension to look forward to.

  38. Well what about those who are already earning a Government pension and are now working for Government owned companies have they got more rights than those who are supply teachers or workers in earning a decent wage?


  39. Anon 0842,

    Someone will have to and that is the tax payer or shall civil servants work for free?

    Like in every place of work there are good ones and other ones that do not deserve being employed in the civil service.

    Provisions have to be made so this government allowes the whole service to get rid of dead wood and this does include some managers and CEOs


  40. Today, a circular from government suggesting that General orders in the context of sick pay,annual leave etc etc has been made public.this document totally explains the oppositte to the nine points outlined by UNITE some weeks back were clear text .

    There is a huge ammount of conflict between the two documents and it is very clear to anyone reading such documents that what i am noting is fact.

    I will expand if needed for the sake of democracy,tranparency and honesty.


  41. D, please do expand, its good to get the inside story, instead of the spun one!

  42. Bulletin of circulars 19th April 2011 (Government) There is no intention or possibility of the Government changing the terms and conditions of employment of civil servants (for example annual leave,sick leave etc etc).
    This has not even been discussed,and is not contemplated.
    The review of general orders that is proposed will be limited to bringing this antiquated document up to date.

    To all unite members 28 March 2011 (Union) The aim is to improve and modernise terms and conditions of employment.
    Point 4,Public sector code in substitution of general ordersfor both industrials and non-industrials.
    Point 5-Unsatisfactory attendance procedures.

    It is clear that these two paragraphgs above containe conflicting text.The matter of general order has not been eliminated from the Blue print for the future which is availale on-line.

    Someone is not being clear and the chief minister after meeting GGCA members on John mac suggested that this was the deal and no cherry picking was allowed.Why now do we have an altered blue print?could someone be worried?

    Instead of interpreting the text i thought it would be better for me to quote it and then for others to interpret or judge.

    Happy to expand even further.


  43. Cucumberbear dice...

    El gobierno por si mismo no, pero el emperador esta tirando la casa por la ventana. Alli nadie se atreve a contradecir al senorito. Ya era hora que cambiemos de gerencia.