Unite calls for a pause and full consultation on Community Care

Unite, the union for workers in Gibraltar, is calling for a pause regarding any changes to the operation of and eligibility for community care, as well as full consultation with relevant stakeholders by Gibraltar Community Care Limited, including unions, charities and those that are or will in the future be participating in the community care scheme.

The union’s calls come following a week of speculation and statements on the future of the scheme, which have not made the future of the scheme any clearer, and feedback from concerned union members that are directly or indirectly impacted by any possible changes.

Stuart Davies, Unite National Officer for Gibraltar said: “This week has seen speculation, news articles and statements from Gibraltar Community Care Limited regarding the future of the community care scheme with the contents of some of these statements heightening anxiety and delivering confusing messages. The union is alarmed at claims of abuse of the system, when it would appear that those participating in community care have been operating within the boundaries and criteria provided for by Gibraltar Community Care Limited.

"There has been talk of a study that the board of GCC have been undertaking, reviewing the fairness of payments and future announcements on proposed changes. This lack of transparency is of grave concern, there are significant and potential issues with regard to possible changes to community care both for those that actively participate in the scheme and the charities that benefit from the contribution of community officers.

The negative reaction to the possibility of changes to the community care scheme have highlighted that such potential amendments to the scheme and eligibility rules should not simply be subject to a review by the board of GCC. If there are issues with the operation of the scheme, perceived or otherwise, then these should be worked through in full and transparent consultation with all the key stakeholders, including unions and charities; however sweeping commentary as to abuse of the system is at best unhelpful. Unite recognises the important work undertaken by Gibraltar Community Care Limited and also the role that the charity has played in tackling poverty by enabling those short of pension age to secure additional income through their activities as community officers. This work should not be undone in a hasty review and it is important that the views of those outside of Gibraltar Community Care Limited are sought and incorporated into any consultation on the future of community care.

Unite wishes to work with the charity to ensure that the principled aims of community care are protected whilst addressing any fundamental issues within the scheme that have been identified. Therefore consultation should be full and inclusive, the union will be seeking urgent dialogue with the directors of Gibraltar Community Care Limited, as well as the Minister with oversight for the charity to represent the views of those union members potentially impacted by any proposals”.