PANORAMA will publish opinion poll on Monday
A PANORAMA public opinion poll will be published on Monday - the opinion poll everyone is waiting for! This is, not only, because we pioneered opinion polls in Gibraltar a quarter of a century ago - but because, since then, we have accurately forecast all election winners.
We continue to use the same methods that we first used at a general election in 1976, the year after we were first published. Opinion polls have been one of our contributions to Gibraltar society. Others carry out polls these days!
Our polls are carried out in all electoral areas. We will not only publish the state of the parties, but also a wealth of other statistical information drawn from the returns received.
Not only the current state of play, but also the pointers and trends. The results by districts.
It was a PANORAMA poll that first suggested that the GSLP were overtaking the AACR and, eventually, that they would beat them at an actual election. With the AACR in power for 40 years, some people could not believe our prediction!
More recently, five months before the 1996 election, we said that the GSD had overtaken the GSLP. This was at a time when the GSLP had 73% support. Again, we were proved right when the election came.
With another election next week, PANORAMA brings you another poll. Watch out for it!
Close the door on Spain’s illegal claim, says IWBM
Do not be misled by the lull in the Joint/Sovereignty done deal, it is very much alive and waiting for the right moment to be reactivated against us. It is therefore important that the foreign affairs question, which includes our final future status be given the importance it deserves by the electorate," says the Integration with Britain Movement.
According to them, devolved integration is the only way that Gibraltar puts an end to the Spanish illegal claim. (As stated in the U.K. parliament Joyce Quinn); Meets the U.N. options (as per Kofi Annan); Because we freely choose it, makes it an act of self-determination which would thereby decolonize Gibraltar; Does not go against the Treaty of Utrecht; Continues the Perpetuity clause in that Treaty; Provides for a Permanent Union with Britain, our mother country (Present Preamble has been breached with the Joint Sovereignty discussions, and it could happen again.); Would have its own M.P. in Westminster; Overrides the Brussels agreement; Will ensure that Spain respects this democratic act of union just like in the cases of Ceuta and Melilla and will have full political equality with the U.K.
Devolved integration must be negotiated. The IWBP say this means that we retain on our own terms, our present devolution of Self Government, our self sufficiency (i.e. control over our economy) and above all our Gibraltarian identity, just like the Scots and Welsh.
In a leaflet they refer to other integrated territories, and they say that Gibraltar must demand "with strong political will and courage for this correct and honourable treatment, more so given our special circumstances. We must not allow our present elected members to abandon this option."
They describe themselves as a non-partisan pressure group, still trying, to work with all political parties to unite with a common view so as to secure the best possible future for all Gibraltarians.
Calpe conference confirms Gibraltar ape management system
Experts from five Continents attending the Calpe 2003 Conference earlier this month confirmed that the provisioning system provided by GONHS on contract to the Gibraltar Government is sufficient to meet the animals’ needs.
GONHS adds: A special workshop on Conservation management of the species, which was chaired by Dr John Cortes of GONHS, was held to take advantage of all the expertise present to discuss macaque management. There was wide discussion of management of the species in general and in Gibraltar in particular. Contributions included those from Dr Jutta Keuster of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, Dr Paul Honess of the Veterinary College of Oxford University, Mark Pizarro of the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic, Eric Shaw of GONHS and Prof Agustin Fuentes of Notre Dame University in Indiana.
Prof Fred Berkovitch of the San Diego Zoological Society, who has extensive experience of provisioned macaques stated that, not only was the amount of food provided to the monkeys in Gibraltar adequate, but it was probably too much. Proof of this included the healthy state of the animals as well as the fact that they breed every year whereas in the wild the same species has offspring only once every two years.
It was accepted as established that the roaming of the monkeys away from the Upper Rock is totally unrelated to provisioned food, and a part of the species’ natural behaviour – in the wild their home ranges extend up to 7 square kilometres.
Indeed, Prof Andrea Camperio-Ciani, who has studied the species extensively in Morocco, estimated that the natural vegetation of the Rock could easily sustain 1000 monkeys. The problem of roaming into built-up areas stems mainly from the fact that they can obtain rich and attractive food in areas of human habitation. This is a fact that occurs around the world whenever monkey species are in close contact with humans.
The issue of culling was of course discussed. Here the need for selecting individuals carefully to maintain social structure and genetic diversity was stressed and, where culling is necessary, it should be programmed with reference to scientific expertise and should be aimed essentially at 2-year old animals.
However, it was clear that culling cannot solve the problem of roaming, especially when it involves splinter groups from established packs in the process of fission. Here unauthorised artificial feeding away from their normal provisioning sites can be a factor in dividing the animals.
Future research on all these and other aspects of the biology of the Gibraltar macaque population is already ongoing and following the Conference new projects have been identified and are being planned.
These and other discussions will form the basis of recommendations being prepared by GONHS regarding the future management of the species.
Gibraltar first ever Vegetable Oil trial
The ESG will yesterday took the first steps towards running a veg oil trial on a coach. Swiss engineer and Veg oil expert Michael Zeller were visiting Gib in order to advise on the conversion requirement for the selected vehicle - a Toyota Coaster. The system will then be fitted and trials will commence.
Waste oil will be collected by the ESG from local restaurants, treated, and then used to conduct a thorough and reliable trial on the efficacy and reliability of this alternative fuel supply, as well as long-term effects on the engine. There will also be participation from top mechanics.
The trial, if successful, could see the entire Calypso coach fleet in the future running on this environmentally sound fuel. The only limitations would be the reliability of supply. What is guaranteed, however, is that any replacement of diesel fuel with clean burning alternatives, can only enhance our air quality and improve the health of our population. It is also a very effective way of disposing of what is classed as a mild pollutant of our waters at present.
Separate trials will also be initiated on a 'fuel ionisation' unit. The manufacturers claim improved combustion with the unit, which results in reduced emissions and lower fuel consumption (10 to 25%). The unit will be fitted to a second coach and also to a modern 4-wheel drive vehicle.
The ESG says it is conducting the trials in order to have an independent assessment of the unit before lending support and lobbying for wide spread use.
GGR will not be threatened, Alvarez tells Feetham
A row has broken up between Gay Rights chairman Felix Alvarez and Labour leader Daniel Feetham, after the GGR recommended that gays, their families and friends should not vote for Labour.
Mr Feetham had responded with an email sent to Mr Alvarez, who sees it as a threat.
Said the GGR: "The message expresses discontent with GGR's decision not to back the Labour Party in the current Elections, a decision taken due to what GGR considers to be Labour's lack of transparency on rights for gay citizens in Gibraltar as we feel all voters deserve to be told up-front and without doubt what a Party stands for. The same message says that GGR's democratic and non-partisan decision not to support Labour is an "aggressive anti-Labour campaign".
Mr Alvaresz says that, to date, "I am still a Labour member, having enthusiastically joined the Party and given serious thought to the private offer negotiated with Mr Feetham of entering the Executive Committee but later informing Mr Feetham in a personal meeting of my not wishing to do so on the grounds that Labour were not publicly willing to openly support gay citizens and of my non-agreement to his condition of remaining silent on the matter despite my personal interest, as a politician, in representing wider political issues as well in a Party with a balanced approach."
The GGR claims that there are other elements in the message received by us, however. The author of the e-mail message states that Labour will refer (presumably publicly) to the following:
· the way that I have supposedly dealt with this decision by GGR
· my supposed personal reasons "for dealing with this in the way" that I have
· my supposed personal position today and what it calls my personal position "in the not too distant past"
· the message makes reference to the fact that I, like so many Gibraltarians, own a home in Spain but makes no reference to the fact that I own a home in Gibraltar too. As far as I know it is no crime to own a house or even a castle anywhere.
"In response to this let me make very clear that as Chairman of GGR I will not cow-tow to any politician or political party whether that Party be one of which I am a member or not," said Mr Alvarez. "Also, as an ordinary member of a political party I reserve my right to hold my views on the ideas and proposals of that party and will not be silenced on that score either when, as an ordinary member, I am not bound by collective discipline as a result of forming a part of its Executive.
Instead, as Chairman, I will continue to express GGR's views independently and democratically when it considers any politician to be ignoring the rights of the gay community, something which GGR believes to be true of the Labour Party. No amount of threat (veiled or otherwise) will silence either my personal voice, GGR's, nor the gay community's."
Mr Alvarez adds: Furthermore, and despite the fact that I am not standing for election and am therefore not obliged, I am more than prepared to make available details of my bank account, the properties I own, my personal life past or present and anything else that may be required by any individual wishing to know about me. For me that is not a threat but an exercise in transparency, and I and the Electorate would welcome that attitude being matched by those seeking to be elected to public office - including Mr Feetham and the Labour Party."
Answering Mr Feetham's charge that he had not seen the letter as it had been sent to a wrong address, the GGR says that "it would be beneficial for Mr Feetham to ensure that the party keep its website information up-to-date so that errors of this sort do not occur," as the letter was sent to address details in the website, and adds that "the Open Letter was also e-mailed to Mr Feetham at his alternative e-mail address which has been previously used to correspond with him in my capacity as Chairman of GGR. What is more, the letter was published in full by PANORAMA on Thursday 13 November, so it is difficult to conceive that mr Feetham would not have been aware of its full text, and it is even stranger that if Mr Feetham was open to dislogue on the letter's content that he should not have contacted GGR earlier to clarify his position and avoid any misundertanding, if indeed any should exist."
In a Press statement, Mr Alvarez adds that "whilst it is entirely possible for an individual to be rubbished or even destroyed by skilled legal technicians, and whilst that could also be the intent of threats towards my person, the right to justice of the gay community will not be rubbished."
This is the letter sent by Mr Feetham:
Dear Felix ,
I have just been informed by members of the executive that you intend to conduct an aggressive "anti-Labour" campaign because I have not responded to an Open letter sent to the press. That is your democractic perogative as is ours to refer to the way you have dealt with this, the reasons for you dealing with this in the way you have, your own position today and your position in the not so distant past.
Its a shame you have not sent me a copy of the letter to our party headquarters and not Imossi house which has not been our address for the last seven months. If you do there will be a response on the record. Other associations have asked us to develop specific points not dealt with in our manifesto and we have done so in writing. It is surprising you have not had sight of one of the thousands of leaflets we have delivered in Gibraltar over the last eight months containing our new address. An address which appeared in a recent letter I sent you in October as a member of the party. My e-mail address whilst we remain on campaign is email@example.com.
Nonetheless I look forward to fielding your questions at the John Mackintosh Hall on Wednesday. I gather that you tried to phone from your home in Spain during our phone in on Monday of last week. No doubt you will have better luck on Wednesday.
Leader of the Labour Party
Our contract with Gibraltar, say
The GSLP/Liberals say they are offering a binding contract to Gibraltar.
Their manifesto, published yesterday at a Press conference, accuses the GSD of not having "laid a brick in 8 years" as regards housing, and offer 750 new housing units, for rental and home ownership, the average price of the latter being £33,000 in a 50/50 scheme.
They say they will introduce rate reductions and provide further tax breaks for home owners.
As part of the GSLP/Liberal plans for education there is reference to a University College for Gibraltar, issuing internationally recognised degrees in partnership with a UK university.
In social affairs, there will be maternity grants as of right, a new geriatric unit and the introduction of the sexual offenders register.
Senior citizens will receive a bonus of £1,500 to coincide with the 300 years of British Gibraltar. They will pay no telephone rental charge, and there will be free doctors house calls, free TV licences and free bus travel.
On medical services, there is a sign that reads- HEALTH WARNING: Voting for the GSD can seriously damage your health.
The GSLP/Liberal manifesto talks of what's wrong in the health service, and of what they plan to do to improve the situation.
On "our contract with working people", they plan to have a new 10% tax rate and an increased minimum wage. They promise "no contractorisation or privatisation", and machinery to tackle cross-frontier illegal labour.
The Gibraltar Business Development Plan includes attracting more banks to Gibraltar, implementing zero corporate tax on 1 July next year, making Gibraltar the most competitive internet location in Europe, and expanding the land reclamation on the east side. The role of the Gibraltar Savings Bank will take onboard the needs of businesses and personal users. Loan guarantees for business are also on offer.
Road tax would be abolished, there would be no more clamps in the public highway and an end to traffic chaos.
With yachts and cruise calls down, the GSLP/Liberals say that they would market these sectors to provide growth.
The environment and heritage will be protected, the OESCO power plant in the dockyard will be moved out of there. At King's Bastion there will be a lesisure centre, while the sportscity project would be completed.
On foreign affairs, the manifesto says: The social and economic prosperity of Gibraltar is not dependent on sharing sovereignty with Spain as the British foreign office was telling us after the resumption of Brussels talks with Spain in 2001. We will say NO to Spain and deliver a secure and prosperous future for Gibraltar.
GSD offer 'security, stability, prosperity'
The manifesto retains the GSD's "long-standing willingness to participate in reasonable dialogue with Spain," but goes on to add that reasonable dialogue is not dialogue that is pre-determined, "is not dialogue aimed at bringing about any transfer in our sovereignty to Spain."
The manifesto is about the past and the future, hence they set out the progress made and the commitments.
In business, they will build more industrial parks - at Lathbury (phase 2), the ex-wine bottling plant at North Mole and at Ragged Staff tunnels.
Lower taxation for businesses, in effect, a maximum of 15% of profit and will often be lower, since it will not be based on income. This will happen when the tax proposals are approved by the EU Commission.
"We are committed to seeking the establshment of a local commercial bank to provide a full range of banking services to local businesses," they say.
Tourism projects include the floodlighting of the city walls, upgrading of tourism signage and redevelopment of air terminal.
If re-elected they will continue to be committed to lowering personal taxation to the lowest possible levels.
The manifesto speaks of "a new era for our health service", linked to the new hospital now being built.
"Private practice will not be allowed while there are public waiting lists," says the GSD.
They speak of 'progress in housing', and add: We will build at least 300 homes for rental as part of the government housing stock. Of these, 150 will be for the elderly. They also speak of 750 houses.
It adds that "hundreds more will be built by the private sector on land sites provided by government."
"We will continue to prepare Gibraltar and its public services for the very happy consequences of the fact that our elderly are living longer!" says the manifesto."Our policies will continue to be based on a commitment to proper and dignified financial support, addressing residential and housing needs, and providing leisure facilities and care services."
A new prison will be built at Lathbury Barracks. "We have proposed a Police Authority to act as overseer authority for the RGP," they say.
A new first and middle school will be built at Queensway.
They talk of an integrated transport plan and of building facilities in upper town and other areas.
Security, Stability, Prosperity is their slogan.
Snoopy in Gib Christmas stamps
Christmas 2003 sees the second Official PEANUTS stamp issued by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau.
The Miniature Sheet of one Stamp has been allowed by the Charles Schulz's Organisation and features the charming Snoopy characters carol singing around a Christmas tree and celebrating the Holiday Season.
The first PEANUTS comic strip appeared on October 2nd 1950 and it has become the most widely syndicated comic strip in history appearing in 2500 newspapers around the world every day.
The individual illustrations contained in the Miniature Sheet design are all originals from the late Charles M Schultz's.
The stamps have been licensed by United Feature Syndicate Inc. via the UK agents
All illustrations are UFS (c)
The Miniature Sheet will be mainly used for all Christmas Parcels sent from Gibraltar and will no doubt create interest to philatelists worldwide.
Miniature Sheet, £ 1.00
First Day Cover, £ 1.30
Presentation Pack,£ 1.35
UNION’S ELECTION POLICY
In Gibraltar many issues are associated with party loyalties and it is hard to distinguish always between community politics and party politics.
Within this context, given that the T&G is an independent Union which attracts members of different political loyalties, the leadership will openly and objectively pronounce itself on political issues that are of particular concern to working people. When our Union uses the term "politics" however, it must be clear that we refer to issues of a general political nature affecting the whole of the community. This as opposed to narrow political issues, which are themselves, partisan in nature and which so often create divisions within our Union. The polarisation of the political scene has placed the Union in a very difficult situation. The membership is composed of supporters of the three main political parties. Maintaining a neutral stand is not an easy task for the leadership in these prevailing conditions and within the context of a small community.
Notwithstanding the T&G will remain independent from party political links and in the words of former General Secretary Jack Jones, 'our Union will work with the Government of the day'. This policy has delivered results not only to the economic interests of members but to the working class as a whole. It has also been instrumental in the defence of our Gibraltarian identity. Indeed we are proud of the fact that the standard of living of unionised labour has been substantially improved since the last General Elections.
Politics in essence is concerned with life and how people live together. For this reason politics is also an integral part of Union activity. Political decisions and legislation have a direct bearing on our members' lives: consequently, the Union must use its influence and campaigning potential to further the individual and collective well being of the working classes.
Our objective therefore is to maximise the positive reaction and political outcomes on economic, industrial and the most venerable citizens of our society.
Before this General Elections the Union had identified key policy issues, which it expected the new Government to implement in the next four years of the House of Assembly. A number of new policies are also being identified to build upon our strategy to improve welfare provision and eliminate low pay.
TRAINING AND RETRAINING
Much progress has been made over the last four years, in the provision of vocational training. Notwithstanding this achievement, we cannot be complacent. To simply respond to training requirements from individuals or sections of industry is no longer enough. The Advisory Training Council must now undertake a review of the skills that are lacking or will be required by our growing economy so as to programme and target training and retraining needs. For example we know for a fact that the construction industry is now finding difficulty in recruiting qualified electricians. Gibraltar must be pro-active in identifying and addressing its training needs.
PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
The Private Construction Industry continues to be serviced predominately by non-resident labour. Job security, conditions of employment and the provision of pension constitutes the main reason why locally trained skilled workers opt for employment in Government or Government controlled companies.
Minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment negotiated under joint union/industry employers collective agreements should be made legally binding.
Government tender contracts should contain the requirement to provide on the job training to Government apprentices. During the period of training, trainees should be paid under terms of the industry pay and conditions agreement (CATA).
MINIMUM HOURLY RATE
In Gibraltar the minimum wage in the year 2000 stood at £3-26 an hour, the T&G made representations to the Government to increase the minimum wage so that it would retain its purchasing power. The Government responded with a £4-00 an hour minimum wage, an increase of 22%. The Union welcomed this response. Our position is that the minimum wage should be index linked.
Our Union's campaign on the minimum wage is rooted in our social obligation, however, it must be stressed that unionised labour in Gibraltar is earning above that figure.
THE PUBLIC SECTOR
The Union believes that all services provided by the Public Sector should remain under the official employers' control (GOG & MOD). We are opposed in principle to any policy of Privatisation or Contractorization. Radical improvements in the service provided by workers will be the best antidote against any form of contracting out. Maximising the physical and human resources available will produce a more efficient and value for money service. Unlocking the potential of all employees offering proper career opportunities and training; and the contribution towards a flexible workforce is fundamental in reaching that goal. Our aim as a Trade Union is to achieve a model of what must be the future for Gibraltar. High pay, high quality, high productivity culture, and indeed a policy for efficiency, rights and responsibility.
Substantial progress has been achieved in the elimination of discrimination in pay and conditions between industrial and non-industrial employees. This has been done through the recently implemented harmonisation package, which included a reduction to 37 hours per week and improvements to pension terms. However, the process will not be completed until GOG now amends the pension ordinance to allow ex industrial employees to exercise the option of retiring at the age of 55. In addition to the above, we have reached satisfactory agreements for our members in the Electrical Authority, Post Office, Technicians, low paid under the banding structure, sewer section, GHA Nursing Assistants. There are other groups pending which we soon hope to complete.
Our members in the MOD are always under the threat of privatisation or contractorisation.
It is important therefore that all political parties and especially the elected Government be fully supportive of the Union policy that the MOD retain in-house direct employment, as this constitutes the main social and financial contribution that the base makes to the people and economy of Gibraltar.
CASUAL EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPLY WORKERS
Casual employment was a norm in the thirties, but after intense union struggles, it was eradicated and gave way to permanent employment. The Union is in principle against the policy of casualisation. Our aim has always been for permanent and pensionable jobs.
We consider that any person employed on a regular basis on the same job should be offered a permanent post. A substantive number of supply workers working for the Education Department have now been made permanent. This progress should continue throughout Government.
Supply workers are normally female employees. Those who work for a year in the same post should be made permanent and granted all accompanying rights be it in the Private or Public Sector. For short-term supply workers covering absenteeism on a regular basis we demand a new policy of rights.
The T&G are represented in the Labour Advisory Council set up by the Ministry of Employment. Our Union representative has consistently highlighted the issue of unregistered labour, which threatens the jobs of those who are legally employed and constitutes unfair competition to reputable unionised companies. The ugly face of illegal employment is yet again rearing it's head predominantly in shops, bars and restaurants. The Labour Inspectorate must be more vigilant and proactive in tackling this problem.
In pursuance of the Union's objective, the T&G has proposed the following measures:-
a) The provision of a Hotline telephone at the disposal of the general public for reporting cases of illegal employment.
b) Information to be supplied on a quarterly basis as to how many cases of illegal employment were detected and how many resulted in prosecution.
c) An appeals tribunal should include powers to recover from employers any unpaid wages due to employees resulting from breach of registration contracts.
THE 14.75 HOURS CONTRACT
This type of contract continues to be abused by unscrupulous employers. It is a recipe for insecure and unfair employment for employees engaged under these conditions which in the main are female workers.
The employer exploits this situation by paying a reduced rate of Social Insurance. A saving of £10-44 per week. The employee, who in many sectors is required to work more hours on a regular basis, only pays £10-33 instead of full contribution, thus only covered for medical and accidents. They are however penalised by being excluded from receiving unemployment, pension, maternity and death grant benefits. This opens the opportunity for employers to pay cash in hand for extra hours worked.
As from the 1st January 04 the Government has agreed to , significantly reduce Social Insurance contributions from part time and casual workers. No details have yet been submitted nor indeed has the Union been reassured, that this scheme will not encourage employers to favour part-time jobs in reference to full-time.
The Union is concerned with the fact that Tribunals take far to long to convene, thus causing unnecessary financial hardships to the claimant.
Resulting from the Rassa v GOG case, the appeal judges determined that the concept of constructive dismissal is not included in local legislation. This constitutes a very serious negative development to employees harassed and victimised at work hitherto accepted under the local rules of Industrial Tribunals.
The Union calls on the next Government to amend the employment ordinance to contain the right for employees to claim constructive dismissal at the Industrial Tribunal.
STATUTORY PENSION SCHEME
A breakthrough in the provision of an Occupational Pension Scheme was made in the year 2000, when Government established a centralised pension fund known as the Provident Fund No. 2. This scheme is contributory has mobility, but only covered workers in Government controlled companies. Further progress was made this year when Government agreed to open this scheme to participation from all private employers. Notwithstanding this achievement it is still the Union's determination and contention that unless private employers are forced by law to join, few private employers will take up the offer in the interests of the workers and their families.
The extension of occupational pensions constitutes a major breakthrough in employment and social policy and also a significant contribution to encourage local workers to seek employment in the private sector.
STATUTORY REDUNDANCY COMPENSATION
The Union welcomes Government's response to make redundancy compensation a statutory provision. This was one of our pre 2000-election priority demands.
The Union welcomes the increases in Unemployment Benefit, introduced at the last budget. These increases are roughly in line with the proposals contained in our 2000 policy document.
The Union regrets however that the duration of this benefit should have not been increased from 13 weeks to 26 weeks as claimed by the Union.
The current means-tested supplementary benefit scheme based on discretionary grounds needs to be reviewed. The T&G propose that the Government set up an Independent Board to award and review all means-tested discretionary benefits.
INDUSTRIAL INJURIES/DISABLEMENT BENEFIT
Since the Union raised the matter over six years ago, Social Services have failed to update its list of recognised Industrial Diseases in line with those recognised in the UK. To date no information has been supplied by Government on this issue.
DISABLEMENT BENEFIT AND COMPENSATION
The Union welcomes the increases to the disabled person's allowance by 8% with the promise to review further.
The Union had claimed increases to these benefits in November 1998, to the Minister for Social Services. The Minister for Social Services has not yet responded to the Union's claim to make this benefit indexed linked.
LABOUR STATUTORY RIGHTS
There are a number of Statutory Rights, that should be contained in the Employment Ordinance, to address the disparity that exists between the private and public sector, these are as follows:-
a) Introduction of 37 hour week.
b) Overtime statutory provision, weekdays time and a half, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays double time.
c) Leave and sick leave provision to be reviewed.
d) Maternity leave, to be increased and employers obliged to make up the basic wage.
e) The employer should pay paternity leave.
f) Coach/Bus driver and guide terms of condition and employment to be regularised under the conditions of employment board ordinance.
The T&G reaffirm its commitment to effectively tackle the longstanding discrimination and hopelessness suffered in Gibraltar by our long serving migrant community.
In continuing with our established policy of building upon the rights already achieved, we will now campaign for long-term resident migrant workers in Gibraltar to benefit from the Community Care Social Fund.
Considering the average age of our migrant community in Gibraltar, this benefit now constitutes the most important and urgent of the evolved right, yet to be claimed and achieved.
IDENTIFICATION OF CAMPAIGN ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES
1. Advisory Training Council to undertake a skills analysis of current and future skills required by the Gibraltar economy.
2. GOG Tender contracts to contain the requirement to the support apprentices in the construction industry under CATA terms.
3. Minimum wage to be indexed linked.
4. GOG to allow ex industrials to retire at 55, and introduce break in service provision in pension ordinance.
5. Supply workers, in post, for over a year, to be made permanent and pensionable.
6. The right to claim Constructive Dismissal at the Industrial Tribunal.
7. Statutory Occupational Pension Scheme.
8. Unemployment benefit to be increased to 26 weeks.
9. Enhance conditions of Labour Ordinance.
10. The right of long termed resident migrant workers to Community Care Contributions.
GSLP/Liberals in "We are going to win" mood
by PANORAMA reporter
A mood of "We are going to win" permeated the GSLP/Liberal election rally at a crowded John Mackintosh Hall.
It was a festive atmosphere, with balloons, flags and banners; the main message was one of "progress and prosperity" - we will deliver.
On a huge screen, there was this film which said: For 8 years, Gibraltar suffocated by this man.
And when a picture of Peter Caruana appeared, the shouts and boos reached fever pitch.
And then, when the screen lifted, when the curtains opened, the GSLP/Liberal candidates all appeared on stage to rupturous applause. "We are the only party that can beat the GSD," said Mari Montegriffo, as she addressed the enthusiastic audience.
They would be offering concrete commitments with specific dates.
The GSD government had been spending the millions inherited from the GSLP when in office. The message was that, once out, the GSD would never win again.
New candidate Lucio Randall said how their leader Joe Bossano had been proved right, time and again, on a number of issues.
Like many other things, the east side reclamation had been initiated by the GSLP government. It is now a valuable asset, but the Alliance plans were to make it worth £150 million more than the GSD are content with. This idea that the GSD had no ideas and kept copying them was a recurrent feature during the speches. Charles Bruzon could not believe what he saw in the GSD manifesto, and later spoke of "Bossano's loyalty to Gibraltar."
The GSD are running out of ideas, reiterated Steven Linares in a speech punctuated by much humour about 'his cousin Bernard'. I am the other Linares, he said, and added: Go away Bernard, it's the other Linares who is getting in.
Education is to prepare children for life at all levels, not only how many GCSEs you have.
The GSD could spend £10 million for the Theatre Royal but would not buy a dyalisis machine.
For Steven Marin, the GSD government was trying to cover up their deficiencies with propaganda and parties.
But the danger was that the economy could end up in the hands of the Palacio de Santa cruz.
There was reference to Gaggero having been given a £300,000 soft loan and £25,000 grant for a ferry that did not last long.
Fabian Picardo recited a long list of what he claimed were GSD promises which remained to be fulfilled, promises that went back to the 1996 and 2000 elections. Judge them by their records!
Gibraltar is in trouble by the failures of this government.
And in an indirect reference to the Labour party, he said the election was about winning government, not opposition - that was the coward's way out.
The Alliance had worked well in opposition and would work well in governmnt from 28 November, said Joseph Garcia.
"We are going to send them packing out of Convent Place," he said to cheers. Continues overleaf
He, and other speakers, said that the only way to oust the GSD was to block vote the 8 GSLP/Liberal candidates.
He spoke of decisions waiting for the chief minister to decide, from serious finance centre issues to the colour of umbrellas at Casemates. They had a housing minister who did not build houses, while Holliday should be given the lead role in Around the World in 80 days.
THE BIG SPEND
Leader Joe Bossano spoke of the wealth they had created when in office - for Caruana to spend! He said he would not make the same mistake again.
I did not create a raining day fund to buy myself an umbrella, he quipped. It was there to save Gibraltar if others tried to make our lives impossible.
The GSD did not win the 1996 election, we lost it. Caruana has already lost this one.
Instead of helping the pensioners in the way they should, Caruana spends twice as much knocking down the Theatre Royal.
And he spoke of the financial arrangements for the new hospital, which made the government the tenants and not the owners, paying a hefty rent for 20 years to a half Spanish bank. He said it was a lie for the breakaway group (Labour) to say that the GSLP wanted to stay in opposition.
A vote for Feetham is a vote for Caruana, warned Bossano.
VOGG to monitor former Governor's London talk
VOGG to monitor former
The Voice of Gibraltar group say they will be sending a representative to monitor the talk this week of the former Governor Sir David Durie at Chatham House in London.
It will be interesting to see how he approaches the issues of Gibraltar now that he has retired and can speak freely, they add.
Topics promised include: "The Treaty of Utrecht - a poisoned chalice.
The effect of the United Nations Charter. The indivisibility of the people and the Rock. Why Spain needs to talk to Gibraltar."
They add: It should be recalled that due to his support at the time for the unpopular British Government policy on negotiating joint sovereignty the VOGG made its presence felt at his official functions, often noisily. On this occasion,
however, we will be taking the advice that we repeatedly gave him, and will be listening.
Also attending will be Kevin Kelway from the Golden Hinde association which maintains a strong interest in Gibraltar related matters in the UK.
LETTER FOR BUSH
On the occasion of his visit to Britain, Mr Kelway has sent the following letter to President Bush:
Dear Mr President Bush,
RE: GIBRALTAR FOR THE GEORGE CROSS MEDAL
On the eve of your visit to Britain many ordinary Britons wish to celebrate our historical, business, tourist, commercial, and military links with your nation.
Much of the media will centre on those opposed to the war in Iraq, forgetting to understand the shared values, rule of law, family bonds, and language that binds our two countries together.
American GIs in the Second World War uplifted the City of Plymouth devastated by saturated bombing, and food rationing, and other war restraints.
The breath of fresh air from the American invasion of the South West will never be forgotten from my parents generation. You may have been late in the Second World War..but you stood firm with the British allies..we thank you for the freedoms that many planning to protest next week take for granted.
Many Plymouth women married American service personnel and settled back in the USA.
Every year the City of Plymouth celebrates American Thanksgiving...
The Pilgrim Fathers set the course for the New World from our city, not to mention great explorers like Drake and Raleigh that chartered the Americas.
Many quiet British folk support the United States and our close relationship with your country.
PLEASE, do not be put off by a few protesters - who do not speak for the vast majority of the British nation.
British campaigners are battling for the Rock of Gibraltar to receive the George Cross medal for nearly 300 years of British sovereignty next year.
The role the territory played in the Second World War was crucial for the allied effort. Indeed, General Eisenhower part staged the invasion of North
Africa from the Rock.
Gibraltar in nearly 300 years has played a monumental role in the history of modern Britain, and Europe, that still shapes our lives today. The strategic Rock is vital to the Western Alliance, especially in the War against terrorism. The people of the Rock daily are on the frontline of democracy.
Gibraltar was the only democratic, and free part of continental Europe in 1940, that stood alone in Britain`s hour of need. Many Gibraltarian women & Children were dispersed across the Commonwealth, while the garrison city was used in the biggest War of all time, to end the slaughters of the Nazi regimes in Europe.
The proud people of Gibraltar want only to determine their own self-determination, preserve a way of life that is uniquely fundamental to democracies like ourselves.
We are hoping to raise a million signatures of support for the Rock to receive Britain`s highest award for gallantry from the Queen.
Already, 20 members of Parliament, House of Lords, and the European Parliament are supporting the Rock to receive the George Cross Medal for services in the Second World War.
The Rt Hon Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, Chairman of the All Party Gibraltar Committee at the Westminster Parliament has promised to put down an early day motion in the Commons backing the campaign in the next parliamentary session.
We have a North American coordinator running a campaign in the US and Canada calling on veterans, and the citizens of both countries with a love of British Gibraltar to support our petition, and lobby politicians there to support the GIBRALTAR FOR THE GEORGE CROSS MEDAL.
It is said you are a fan of one of our greatest Prime Minister`s Winston Churchill. We are sure, our Anglo American Prime Minister would have supported Gibraltar being given this honour to the loyal people of Gibraltar.
Please back Gibraltar, and especially the George Cross Medal for the Gibraltarians.
We look forward to hearing from you.
GIBRALTAR FOR THE GEORGE CROSS MEDAL
The Attorney General, the threat, and the pleasure of meeting him again
by JOE GARCIA
Hugh Hickling was Gibraltar's Attorney-General in November 1970. I was the Editor of the then Gibraltar Post.
He was newly arrived. There was an industrial dispute. Our industrial correspondent (who wrote anonymously and went on to be a minister years later) wrote a piece warning that the situation should not be exacerbated by bringing out the troops.
Mr Hickling wrote me a letter threatening with the penal provisions of the law. It was the first time that such threats had been made to a Gibraltar editor, so we responded with a front-page banner headline "In defence of Press Freedom", and reproduced the letter we had received and the one we had sent Mr Hickling in reply.
That historic cover of the paper was quickly framed and hang in my office, in honour of such a unique encounter with the law.
Yesterday, Hugh Hickling walked into my office! He is here with his wife, a Conservative city councillor in England who has been helping the Rock in its fight to remain British.
We had a very pleasant and friendly meeting, much unlike those days of colonial swashbuckling.
The event, in fact, led the then Governor Sir Varyl Begg to send a priority telegram to the Foreign Office, saying that "Hickling consulted me beforehand and I entirely support his action."
But he, and others, were taken aback by our reaction in defence of a right, the Right to the Freedom of the Press, which had been hard-won by the people of Gibraltar( shortly after the second world war), led by the late Sir Joshua Hassan, then our legal adviser.
Sir Varyl Begg, rather ruefully, told the Foreign Office: "You will see from the weekly batch of Gibraltar newspapers sent to you (copies also to Madrid by next bag) that a local storm has arisen on the subject of Press Freedom."
It could be that the late Sir Varyl, an admiral of the fleet, thought that he could treat newspaper editors as if they were sailors on one of his ships!
Be that as it may, Mr Hickling left HM Service after Gibraltar. He went on the academic circuit working overseas and in Britain as well. Professor Hickling was also writing novels. A book on short stories, which he wrote in 1994, says: "The short stories in this collection spring from the author's rich background of life and experiences in fascinating places such as Malaysia, Singapore, South Arabia, Thailand, Gibraltar, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Fiji, and in the British Navy during the second world war."
Earlier, he had worked on the Internal Security Act after Malaysia switched from British rule to independence in 1957. The law was drafted to deal with communist rebels. He left the country in 1962, returning in 1969, when, to his surprise, he found that the Act he had drafted was being used against political opponents. "It was being used against people who had not manifested any illegal activity - in my view," he said in a radio interview two years ago.
In 1970,he set foot on Gibraltar!
He is now turned eighty. You can imagine what a pleasure it was to meet him again and to wish him, and his wife, my very best wishes.
Lights to go on a month to Christmas
With approximately one month to go before Christmas Day, the seasonal decoration and lights will once again shine in our city centre. Gibraltar is thus set on the festive trial once again.
The illumination will consist of the traditional motifs and garlands along Main Street and the adjoining lanes. The illuminations have been enhanced by the replacement of some of the older fixtures. A special item this year will be the tercentenary celebrations with the 1704-2004 featuring next to the “Happy New Year” motif at Casemates. Before the lights come on, the choir from the Sacred Heart Middle School will get everyone in a cheerful mood with the rendering of popular carols. This is the first time that a school choir takes part in this ceremony.
The young person doing the honours of switching on the lights is 14-year old Dorian Zammit, a pupil from St. Matin’s School who will be accompanied by friends and school mates, by the Minister for Public Services Ernest Britto, and the staff of the Gibraltar Electricity Authority engaged in the installation of the lights. He will perform the ceremony in front of the ICC’s main entrance (by Casemates) at the northern end of Main Street at 6:30pm this coming Friday 21st November. The General public is welcomed, says the electricity authority.
The lights will, thereafter, come on automatically at 5:30pm each day until midnight, until the 6th January inclusive, additionally they will remain on throughout the nights of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and the 5th January.
Healthcare relationship with the civil service
As work on Phase Two of the Healthcare Development Programme gets underway, David Grafton, a leading UK expert in human resources has been appointed, for a short term, to work on redefining the Gibraltar Health Authority’s relationship with the Civil Service. He joins the team this week, and will be spending his initial week in Gibraltar meeting up with some of the key people involved.
Mr Grafton will be working closely with the newly formed Implementation Team, whose role it is to oversee all developments across the Gibraltar Health Authority. The team includes Ernest Lima (Chief Executive), John Langan (Implementation Leader) and Joe Catania (Director of Operations) as well as representatives from the clinical professions.
David Grafton is an Human Resources professional with considerable experience having working at a senior level in the NHS for more than 20 years. From being a District Personnel Officer in a Health Authority in London, he progressed to become the Director of Human Resources at St Helier Hospital in South London and played a key role in that hospitals successful application to become one of the first wave of NHS Trust Hospitals.
In that position Mr Grafton developed and led the strategy to utilise the freedom the Trust had to introduce local conditions of service and pay provisions that suited the specific needs of the hospital and it’s staff. The process provided the opportunity to develop a culture of staff involvement and a consultative approach that was instrumental in creating and maintaining good industrial relations.
Mr Grafton was a key figure in the Patient Focused Care project, an initiative that received national recognition in the UK, and which sought to redefine the way in which healthcare was delivered for the benefit of the patient.
In April 2000, David Grafton became Director of Human Resources at the newly created University Hospitals of Leicester, with 11,000 staff, 2,200 beds and serving a population of one million people. His key tasks have been that of managing organisational change including the restructuring of management arrangements, and in so doing ensuring good industrial relations are maintained.
He has regularly been invited to participate on UK national working parties dealing with such issues as Staff opinion surveys, conditions of service for medical staff and on “Agenda for Change”, the NHS initiative to modernise pay and conditions for it’s staff.
Mr Grafton said: “ I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with the staff of Gibraltar Health Authority. I very much hope that together we can identify and introduce changes that will be beneficial for the people of Gibraltar and the dedicated staff that provide those services”.
Just 'shelving' joint sovereignty deal "not good enough", FCO official told
Sarah Abecasis and Paul Tunbridge of The Voice of Gibraltar Group met with Mr. Dominick Chilcott, the Director for the EU at The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on Thursday for approximately half an hour, at The Convent. Since this was classified as a familiarisation visit (yet another - how many more) the members of The Group did most of the talking with the Director listening attentively and his secretary busily taking down notes.
Mr. Chilcott was informed, in the strongest possible terms, of the result of the referendum, its explicit rejection of the joint - sovereignty proposals and implicitly, the Brussels Agreement. The latter together with Jack Straw's policy statement of 12 July 2002 must be revoked immediately. Spain already feels that it has been legitimised, by that same 'policy', to interfere in all the affairs of the Rock.
Lamentably, Gibraltar's relationship with Britain will not improve unless the British Government stands up to the Spaniards. Barely shelving the proposals to gather dust is not acceptable.
Next and irrespective of the 'Spanish Dimension', Britain, as the colonial power, must assist the Government of Gibraltar in its efforts towards a United Nations Committee of 24 visit and in implementing the reformed constitution. Furthermore, it was stressed, that expecting Spain to behave in any other way than it has done for the last forty years is a futile exercise. Even if they did, it would not make any difference because that is not the underlying factor, self - determination is. Finally, Mr. Chilcott was reminded of Britain's obligations, legal and moral, under the present Constitution, to defend Gibraltar, something in which it has failed miserably, be it because of ignorance, naivety or just plain political expediency.
The Voice of Gibraltar Group now expects, after so many 'familiarisation' visits from Hain and Straw, prior to the referendum, MacShane after the plebiscite and countless 'mandarins' whenever, that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is, by now, fully aware of the situation. There cannot possibly be any further excuses and delays to the fulfilment of the Rock's aspirations. If there are, then Gibraltar has a long and hard struggle ahead, but will persevere.
Gibraltar Gull goes North
The latest report of a Gibraltar-ringed Yellow-legged Gull takes the range of our seagulls further north than previously known, A gull bearing a blue colour ring with the letters “BNP” was reported by French ornithologist Francois Bouzendorf feeding on a rubbish tip at Charny, 30km east of Paris on 8 November.
This gull had been ringed as a chick on the South Mole in Gibraltar in May 1997.
This adds to the argument that our yellow-legged gulls are part of a “meta-population” with a great deal of movement between colonies. However, research has shown that intensive culling such as is carried out in Gibraltar has the effect of encouraging gulls to leave an area and attempt to nest elsewhere.
Blundering Foreign Office now tries to win Gibraltar over
After having done so much damage to Gibraltar on so many occasions and for so long, the Foreign Office is now planning a campaign to try and win over Gibraltarian opinion. What cheek - some hope!
With Foreign Office credibility at rock-bottom, different Foreign Office players have suddenly changed their spots, and seek to portray themselves as great defenders of the Rock.
As if the people of Gibraltar could forget how they have been treated by so long!
It was rather timely that on the occasion last week of the visit by senior Foreign Office official Dominick Chilcott, the self-determination group drew attention to what they rightly described as "the unacceptable agreement" between Britain and Spain, recalling the formal statement made by foreign secretary Jack Straw to the House of Commons that "we have reached broad agreement to share sovereignty over Gibraltar with Spain."
This agreement was done in the full knowledge that the people of Gibraltar were against sharing their sovereignty, but the leopards who are now changing their spots did not think twice about damaging Gibraltar's position and injuring Gibraltar's sensitivities.
They tried to ran rough-shod over Gibraltar's wishes and feelings, as if we did not count. But the referendum last November, like the one in 1967, made it crystal-clear what are the wishes of the Gibraltarians - and how badly the Foreign Office had been advised about proceeding along the road to nowhere. Will they ever learn?
What is of particular concern is that incidents like that of the Aurora are fuelled by Spanish frustration emanating from Foreign Office miscalculations and mishandling of the Gibraltar issue. It is nothing new - it has been one blunder after another over the years, with the people of Gibraltar suffering the consequences of such ill-conceived behaviour.
Now, upon the realisation that unless the Gibraltarians come onboard there cannot be a deal, they start uttering what they know Gibraltar likes to hear, giving the outward impression that they have become toughies.
What Gibraltar wants are not empty words but real action in support of the wishes and the aspirations of a community that has always been loyal to Britain. It is not up to the Foreign Office to tell us what is good for us; it is up to the people of Gibraltar to decide what it is they want.
Certainly, we all want the best relations with everyone, but such relationships must stem from a genuine desire to be friends and not as part of a policy that does not inspire confidence and which seeks to 'con' the Rock.
Mr Chilcott has said that the joint sovereignty deal is gathering dust. The Brussels Agreement was also gathering dust for a number of years until it was revived by the same Foreign Office who now want to portray themselves as friends of Gibraltar.
Such statements from Foreign Office emissaries are seen for what they worth from a people who have suffered for so long at the hands of an inept Foreign Office whose credibility remains at rock-bottom.
Top Liberal from south-west backs Gibraltar's right to decide
Tony Welch, who is the second on the list of the United Kingdom's South West Region Liberal Democrat candidates for the European Elections next June, visits Gibraltar today. He will meet with Liberal Party Leader Dr Joseph Garcia to update himself on Gibraltar's aspirations in Europe. Mr Welch will also pay a courtesy call on the Deputy Chief Minister Keith Azopardi and the Speaker and Mayor Judge John Alcantara.
Tony Welch is no stranger to Gibraltar having visited many times during his career as a British Army Officer. Serving with the Royal Marines from the 1980s, he often paused at the Rock en-route to exercises and operations worldwide. During his career he took part in a number of battles, including the Falklands Conflict and the first Gulf War.
Mr Welch left the Army as a Brigadier in 1993 and then worked with the European Union, United Nations and the British Government in the Solomon Islands and the Balkans, including a spell as the UN Administrator of northern Kosovo.
In 1997 the European Liberal Democrats were the first European political party to publicly support Gibraltar's call for its citizens to be granted the right to vote in European elections. In 2002, at their congress in the South West of England, they adopted a resolution calling for Britain and Spain to ensure that the welcome granting of voting rights to Gibraltar was not clouded by the two countries' ongoing dispute over the sovereignty of the territory.
The European Liberal Democrats have declared that the solution to the Gibraltar question is for the people of Gibraltar to democratically decide their own future, free from any external political pressures, and in exercise of their inalienable right to self determination.
The decision to include Gibraltar in the South West region, for the purpose of the European elections is, said Welch, the right one. " The South West and the Rock share a long naval and maritime history", he said. "I am very aware that the Royal Marine cap badge has the word 'Gibraltar' above the Globe and Laurel. This depicts the close association between the Rock and the elite UK Fighting Force that still exists today. More important is the enthusiasm, in the South West, which has greeted this historic joining of old friends. The Liberal Democrats will work hard to ensure that the interests of all Gibraltar's people are represented in the European Parliament, as well as in Westminster."
RAF Gibraltar gets safety award
Earlier this year John Sullivan, an Air Traffic Control Officer at RAF Gibraltar, was carrying out his regular airfield inspection when he noticed a nut and part of a bolt on the centre line of the runway. With passenger safety foremost in his mind and concerned that any loose objects on the airfield could damage aircraft, John then brought it to the attention of the relevant authorities. The conscientious act of notifying the authorities of the potential danger led to John being presented with the Flight Safety Award by the Defence Aviation Safety Centre.
Our unique airfield is crossed by a dual carriageway and almost surrounded by the sea. The 450 metre high rock and the international border also contribute to the foreign object debris (FOD) problem. Wing Commander Clive Blount, RAF Station Commander adds: "The co-operation of the population of Gibraltar is very important as flight safety is of paramount importance."