Apr 25 - May Day Rally – Feetham’s Invitation to Speak is Withdrawn

mr feethamYesterday evening, Leader of the Opposition Daniel Feetham noted how saddened he was by the fact that the Gibraltar Trades Council has withdrawn a written invitation for him to speak at next week’s May Day Rally. Mr. Feetham described the withdrawal as scandalous. He explained that he originally received a  written invitation on behalf of the Gibraltar Trades Council for him to speak for 10 minutes at the May Day Rally.

Earlier this week, Mr. Feetham met with a top union official who insisted that the Chief Minister had gone ‘ballistic’ when he found out that Mr. Feetham would also speak at the event. The union official in question, therefore, asked the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw as a speaker voluntarily because the Union had a number of issues which it was currently negotiating with the Government which it did not want to jeopardise.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition received a letter from the Gibraltar Trades Council claiming that there had been a “misunderstanding in relation to the speakers at the May Day event” and that the invitation for the Leader of the Opposition to speak at the event had been withdrawn.

Commenting on the matter, Mr. Feetham stated, ‘It is absolutely scandalous and sad in equal measure that any Union can cow tow to pressure like this.  It may be recalled that last year all other political parties had been excluded from the public rally organized on May Day except for the GSLP-Liberals.  In my May Day Message I expressed deep regret that that this had occurred and that it was not in the interest of workers for any Union to become cheerleaders of the GSLP-Liberal Government or indeed any other government.’

A response statement released by the Government today insists that Mr. Feetham’s statement is a ‘complete misrepresentation of reality designed to mislead the public’. The statement claims that the 1st May Workers Day events were introduced by the new Government after its election. Before then, the GSD  took the position that celebrating Workers' Day on the 1st of May was not necessary, that no event was required on this day and that a long weekend was preferable. For this reason the Government expressed surprise at Mr. Feetham’s keenness  to speak at the event.

At the event jointly organised on the 1st May by the Government and the GTC, the people of Gibraltar would be represented by the Government. In such events speeches are delivered by the Chief Minister on behalf of the Government and people of Gibraltar.

The statement continues, ‘In the circumstances, a decision by the GTC to invite political parties to speak at an event jointly organised by the Government, before consulting with the joint organiser, would have changed the practice of the past sixteen years if not longer. The Government, when it clarified this position to Unite officers was assured that they would not wish to change this practice.

The idea that any person in the current administration "had a tantrum" in respect of an organisational error which was easily fixed is therefore entirely incorrect and untrue. Mr. Feetham is therefore either lying or he has been misled. He should have checked the facts with the Chief Minister before firing off yet another angry press release based on the hearsay and rumours he might wish to believe.’