Leo Olivero

As was expected by most, the new normal was always going to be different, from the one we were all accustomed to or many people grew up knowing?

The Covid-19-stricken world, has seen Gibraltar along with most other countries ease lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, since just before the start of the summer. Not all has gone according to plan or as the public expected. I mean ‘the Covid suffering public’ in terms of having to endure restrictions, a national emergency or major incident where contingency laws rule and other major changes and disruptions to lives and rights are none negotiable!

Controversially, the government has adopted and introduced policies and plans that has put into question ‘what kind of post-Covid Gibraltar’ we can expect, but not necessarily wanted by the majority. Do these national planners really know, how they come up with these extraordinary strategic conclusions, like the ‘environmental angle’ to the closure of Line Wall Road, as a classic example.

Who Was Consulted Very Few It Seems?

The question most people have asked and are still looking for answers to. Like, who did the government consult before announcing the ‘environmentally driven’ national plan. May be, the construction industry or other sectors or some in the local business world. The Line Wall Rd plan may have pleased some local environmental fanatics and scavenging business brains. But it also torpedoed daily lives, not only of motorist, but businesses in the city area and the public at large…with an acute lack of consultation!

A similar situation, soon developed with GHA and the regular primary health care services where the public probably expected, would return to a new normal, but not the present disastrous abnormal one where thousands are suffering, many in distress or fed up with the inability of the GHA to get its act together and return health services, to as near the same situation, before the GHA went into Covid hibernation.

It is a ‘dangerously preposterous’, embarrassing and a shameful state-of-affairs. Because apart from the internal firestorm sweeping through the GHA which is unprecedented. But where it concerns the public or those that matter, particularly the people with health-related problems unable to access the service, before the ‘internal Covid strategic brains’ planned a new normal without consulting the most important sector and the main users ‘the people who use these services daily! Consultation Zero!

The Civil Service, has similarly failed to return to anywhere near normality or the one society knew pre-Covid? In fact, many would have forgotten what a normal civil service was? Though I can only begin to wonder, even presume, what is happening with civil servants and their future and public services? If the Chief Secretary, is receiving instructions how he should manage his large public workforce, as dreamed up under the Covid seal of approval, he’d better develop a mind of his own. But if the present situation affecting the civil service, is of the Chief Secretary making, he should quickly return to his previous role in the teaching profession. Though teaching and not Directing!

Education’ the New (Normal) Controversy as Teachers Criticise Lack of Consultation

NASUWT concerns like (the list is long):

What new measures will be introduced to avoid large groups? How will the Department safeguard teachers and students in the secondary sector seeing as even the Minister has admitted that it is almost impossible to keep to “classroom bubbles”. What is the Department’s plan of action seeing as secondary students have to move around within parts of the school and even between institutions in the case of consortium subjects taught at the Gibraltar College? How can a “classroom bubble” be guaranteed in the primary sector when SENCOs, LSAs, specialist teachers and support staff move around the school, offering support in class as well as interventions on a one-to-one basis in other areas of the school? Does the Department of Education intend to make changes to the length of the working day for teachers? It should be noted that any change in the working hours and conditions of teachers would require a process of negotiation with Gibraltar NASUWT. What provision has the Department of Education made for supply teachers? In case of a teacher calling in sick and requiring a temporary replacement, how can a classroom bubble be maintained if supply teachers may be required to provide cover in different schools throughout the year? Student toilets are shared with the whole year group in the primary sector and have no restrictions in the secondary sector?