Unite the Union, NASUWT and the GGCA along with Action for Housing held a joint rally today at the Piazza for International Workers Day.
The rally began with a one minute silence for Willy Serfaty who passed away on Monday and had been a strong proponent for the Self Determination of Gibraltar and supporter of Unite.
The first speech was given by Victor Gonzales, president of Gibraltar NASUWT who highlighted the importance of unions in Gibraltar for securing workers’ rights and urged political parties to view the rights for which they campaigned as good in themselves.
Alex Nuñez, Unite’s Young Members Chair in Gibraltar spoke next about the unions’ successes, most recently in securing permanent employment contractors to the 200 public sector workers who had been on supply contracts. He urged attendees that there was still a lot more work to be done and highlighted the need to bring back apprenticeships and training opportunities in Gibraltar.
Henry Pinna from Action for Housing spoke about housing issues and poor living conditions in Gibraltar. He urged all three political parties to work with them and see first-hand the appalling housing conditions that still exist and what could be done to rectify them. Henry also laid out that the group believed more affordable housing for rent needed to be developed and urged the parties to enshrine this goal in their manifestos.
Victor Ochello, the outgoing Unite regional officer for Gibraltar spoke about the history of trade unions in Gibraltar and their importance in securing rights as vital as the right to vote and to social security. He reiterated the need for training and apprenticeship opportunities as well as urging the government to tackle the long list of issues that faced workers in Gibraltar, not just Brexit.
Wendy Cumming, president of the GGCA, spoke about how happy she was to see the three unions united and how she believed they needed to work together to face the three biggest dangers she saw to workers in Gibraltar: privatisation, non-consultation and unfair distribution of wealth. She stated that the government had not done enough to work with unions in the past and laments that many of the issues such as walkouts from the IT&LD departments as well as the pay cap for civil servants could have been avoided with proper consultation.
Stuart Davis, Unite national officer for Gibraltar spoke next and highlighted the need to reject privatisation and austerity in Gibraltar, overt or covert. He called on the government to publish the legislation recognising private sector unions. Stuart thanked the Moroccan community of Gibraltar for their support, especially during the Franco era in Spain and stressed that the resurgence of the far-right in Europe was a grave cause for concern. Stuart concluded the speech with a call for those interested to join Unite or get more involved with the group to secure the futures of all workers in Gibraltar.
The rally was closed by a presentation of plaques to the families of former unionists who had helped secure rights for the workers of Gibraltar: Luis del Rio, Manuel Sanchez, Oscar Mackintosh and Jaime Federico.