When we come to celebrate Workers Memorial and May Days it is important to bear in mind not just what these days commemorate but to reaffirm our commitment to improve the working conditions of people and preserve our economic way of life. This is especially relevant at a time of political and economic uncertainty caused by BREXIT. At a time of this uncertainty, it is important to be prudent with public monies and not engage in some of the more wasteful and reckless expenditure we see from this Government. We would not be living up to the example of previous generations of working families if we were wasteful and we would be setting a bad example to future generations if we were reckless.
This last year there have been obvious pockets of discontent in relation to agency workers, the introduction of a 10% responsibility uplift for certain favoured public employees, a social media policy that proposed to affect the ability of civil servants to exercise freedom of expression, the continuing failure to provide real and thorough vocational opportunities to people, the failure to properly engage with teachers on educational reforms or pay and the proposed introduction of a digital authority among other matters. All these issues show that it is important to look through political labels and smoke and mirrors in politics because not everything is what it seems. Mr Picardo is a master of spin – telling people what they want to hear all the time and then not living up to his own expectations. Just because you walk under the banner of a socialist name does not make you one.
I do not profess to be a socialist but I know where I came from and I do not forget. People will also not have forgotten that when the GSD were in office we improved working conditions significantly, returned money to people and restored the civil service who had seen promotion prospects and vacancies frozen for years under the GSLP. History repeats itself.
Last week Mr Picardo accused UNITE of politicking for not allowing him to speak at the Unions’ May Day event andbecause the Unions simply wished to celebrate the day without politicians centre stage. The Unions’ stance was theopposite of politicking and such is the hallmark of Mr Picardo that he brazenly spins out an accusation which is usually the opposite of reality. But we are getting used to the current resident of No.6.
He also said that UNITE were dividing working people unnecessarily presumably trying to give the impression that he and the GSLP have a monopoly on representing working people. That kind of divisive language is not only misplaced it is thoroughly inappropriate at this juncture in our history when we must navigate important challenges ahead. As the son of someone who joined the Dockyard as a boy labourer in the 1950s and spent almost all his working life in the Dockyard and in the TGWU I consider myself as being unreservedly grounded in my own working upbringing. Besides I do not make these false distinctions because there are thousands of working people in the public and private sectors across all industries and coming from all backgrounds.
The Unions can rest assured that if the GSD is elected to Government at the next election I will happily attend their May Day event whether or not they invite me to speak. We will not issue press releases if they do not invite us because ultimately we will not forget that this is a celebration of working people – that we all are – and not a grandstanding opportunity which Mr Picardo churlishly felt was being taken away like a toy.
Whatever happens we are confident in the resilience of this community of ours in finding a way through the current challenging times. Soon there will be an opportunity for all political parties to put their respective programmes to you and we will explain what we intend to do for working people and families there.
On behalf of all of us at the GSD I wish you and your families an enjoyable celebration on these days and reaffirm that in Government the GSD, in accordance with our social democratic values, will govern Gibraltar prudently and safely and in the interests of all our working people and families.