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Government remains open to negotiations in Bus dispute – 605/2023

By September 7, 2023 No Comments

His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar strongly disagrees with Unite the Union’s press release on the ongoing strike action at the Gibraltar Bus Company Ltd.

The Government reminds the public that it was Unite’s GBCL membership who have got up from the negotiating table and have taken the strike action that public now face. The Government remain ready to resume negotiations.

This strike stems from a position where Unite seeks to compare Bus Driver roles with other ‘driving’ duties within the Public Sector. The Government does not consider that such comparisons are helpful or legitimate. 

Furthermore, the Unite position fails to address the fact that there is already a current 10-year pay deal in place, which was agreed by Unite. 

The Government will not enter into negotiations whilst strike action is ongoing, but it is prepared to return to the negotiating table to consider all issues, both those that concern the drivers and those that concern the Government.

Furthermore, the union’s dispute now includes ALL grades within the Bus Company and not just Bus Drivers, departing from the comparison that Unite does of other Public Sector driver comparators.  It is as a result of this that the Government is faced with a union claim which amounts to up to an 89% pay rises.

The Government does not consider that this is a credible or serious negotiating position for Unite to have taken, even as an opening negotiating position.

As a result, the Government has met with the union several times over the summer, highlighting that the claim was not realistic in any way, particularly when the substantive duties of a Bus Driver have remained unchanged over the period.

Unite has alleged that the statement by Government yesterday as to the rates of Bus Driver pay is somehow misleading.  In fact, the Government statement is entirely correct. The Government specifically said that the amounts quoted of £5,500 pcm and £6,500 pcm were with allowances and overtime. The Unite response has been to suggest that the Government statement was misleading because Bus Driver basic pay is lower before overtime and allowances. 

In order to enable to the public to see the accuracy of the Government statement, which Unite has today challenged, the Government is today publishing a schedule of the pay at the Bus Coompany for last year and for what has already passed of this calendar year. (The schedule for 2023 is extrapolated to the end of the year also).  

The Government cannot ignore the unhelpful union allegation it is misleading or attempting to mislead its staff or the public on matters of such importance. 

Despite that, the Government reiterates its desire to return to the negotiation table to address all issues that require negotiation, not just pay, and calls on Unite to end the strike action and return to negotiations.  That would be in the interests of the public, the Bus Drivers and all tax-payers.