Chief Minister’s May Day Message: We Will Repay Cost of COVID Without Austerity

By Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister

I join all working people in celebrating workers day on the 1st of May.

It is fundamental that, this year in particular, we recommit to the principles of dignity in the conditions of employment that are applicable in our economy.

In this respect, in coming months we will see the application of new rules to require every worker in the private sector to be offered a pension.

This is an important step forward as we improve the lot of our private sector workers who too often suffer the effect of less advantageous terms to those who enjoy the benefit of employment in our public sector.

Already we have guaranteed that no pensioner will be in receipt of less than the take home minimum wage.

Additionally, the government is preparing to start a consultation on the equalisation of the pensionable age to ensure equality between the sexes.

I expect that to start very soon.

As we also committed to do, we will work ensure that we improve terms and conditions of employment by protecting the right of workers to join trade unions.

We have already published a Command Paper for this purpose, the effect of which has been delayed by the pandemic.

We now expect to publish a Bill for Act for Trade Union Recognition and for it to become law this year.

We must recognise also that the COVID pandemic has devastated our economy and the economies of all nations.

We have ensured that all workers in our economy had an income at this terrible time.

In the private sector, we introduced BEAT payments based on the minimum wage.

In the public sector, we paid all salaries even in sectors where we were not operating.

Now, we must ensure that the cost of those payments and all other COVID expenses are repaid.

And we will ensure that we repay the cost of COVID without bringing about any austerity into our economy.

Austerity always hurts the weakest in an economy.

Those on lowest pay and on benefits must not be the ones to suffer further.

For that reason I can guarantee you that we will ensure that we will stop all waste and all abuse we detect in government spending.

But we will not engage in the austerity that has been so damaging in other economies.

We will continue to invest in our people and invest in our country.

We will continue to support hard working people, especially the lowest paid.

And we will continue to ensure that we grow our economy and our revenue so that we can ensure that our public sector is sustainable and fit for purpose as we emerge from the COVID pandemic.

As ever, in order to succeed, the key will be solidarity.

Solidarity in working together to ensure that preserve the Gibraltar that we love for future generations in a way that protects the benefits we already provide to our working people.

That is the key to protecting our public and private sector workers.

And to protecting the things that make us strong as a people.

This year, as every year whilst I am Chief Minister and the GSLP Liberals are in government, we will celebrate the 1st of May with a Bank Holiday to show our commitment to remembering the sacrifice of all those who have come before us.