*Letter from economics minister Joe Bossano to Unite's General Secretary Len McCluskey, sent to us for favour of publication:

*Growing by annual average of £28 million

*Civil Service pay is 25% higher than UK

*Increasing gap between lowest and highest paid, and between public sector and private sector worker

Comrade Len,

In your GBC interview, you said that I was pushing austerity and that it didn’t make any sense. You are right it does not make any sense because I am not pushing austerity as you claim. You also say you are astonished at my comments so I thought I should explain to you what I am commenting on.

Either some members of Unite in Gibraltar have deliberately misled you or we have very different definitions of what austerity means.

Since we were elected in December 2011 the size of the public sector has grown by an extra 700 employees as of last year and is likely to grow further in the current year.

The recurrent budget for the public sector has been growing by an average of £28 million every year.

Civil service pay is 25% higher than UK.

Average earnings in the public sector have grown from £33,600 in 2011 to £40,600 in 2017. The growth in the private sector has been from £23,300 to £26,700 in the same period.

There has been an increasing gap between the lowest paid and the highest-paid and between the public sector worker and the private sector worker. I believe that this is unsustainable economically and indefensible socially. I do not agree that this view makes me an advocate of austerity, it makes me a socialist.

I am saying that Gibraltar cannot continue this annual level of growth in the cost of the public sector into the future, especially in the context of Brexit; this is what the word unsustainable means.

If we were to reduce our incomes to UK levels, and I include myself in this, which was what the Transport and General Workers Union fought to achieve in the 1970s, it would require huge cuts to get us back to where you are now in UK, that could be called austerity, but no one is advocating that.

Let me say that I genuinely believe that the current structure of our economy cannot sustain this level of annual increases in the cost of the public services, which currently stands at £50 million a month and is likely to go up again this year. The payroll element is about a third of this sum.

I also believe that I have a duty to put this view in the public domain and labelling me, as an advocate of austerity, which is not what I am, is not going to shut me up or prevent me from putting to our people, the facts, as I believe them to be. I consider this to be in the best interests of Gibraltar, which is what, motivates me and I have defended all my life. The best way of ensuring the protection of the public sector and the jobs of the people who work in it, is to understand that this is only possible if the model is sustainable.

However, if anyone thinks otherwise, and is able to show me, with facts and figures, how it can be done, I will be only too happy to stand corrected.

Yours fraternally,

Joe Bossano