The Government’s showman-like announcement on agency workers in the civil service will come as a welcome step for those workers and families affected. It does though raise more questions than answers.

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “Firstly it is difficult to square the numbers reported in the various news reports with the answers provided to the GSD in Parliament by Government. Reports of the effects of the decision have spoken of this affecting 100 or 176 workers. The Government’s press release does not make clear how many workers providing relief cover in the civil service have been offered jobs in the GDC. The GSD had not previously understood there were so many agency workers providing relief cover in the civil service and was under the impression that the larger numbers of agency workers were present in the wider public service. It would therefore welcome a clarification from Government as to the number of officers being taken on as GDC officers and what specific posts they will occupy and within which departments.

“Secondly, the statement does make clear that 22 civil service vacancies at AA level will be opened. The Government should clarify whether individuals outside the civil service (and agency workers) will be able to apply and compete for these jobs.

“Lastly it is not at all clear where this leaves other agency workers who work in the wider public service such as the care and health sectors or whether the decisions come as a result of agreements with the Unions. It was reported last week that Unite would submit their full proposals on agency workers to Government on 1 February. As this announcement by the Government appears to have been theatric to say the least and precedes that date there is a suggestion it was not the subject of prior agreement with all the relevant unions including GGCA and GTA. Is this one of a number of steps on a specific road-map of agreed measures with the Unions or a knee-jerk reaction by a Government increasingly seeing discontent in the streets on issues on which the GSD has been campaigning for some time.”

The GSD has been asking questions on agency workers for a long time now and has a number of questions before the current session of Parliament. We will seek further answers on these emerging developments as it seems clear that many people have been left quite confused with what has happened.