WARFARE: Teachers ‘greatly dissatisfied’ with way that Picardo dealt with claim

*Inaccuracies in Chief Minister's letter

* Government went back on its word to Gibraltar NASUWT and to every teaching professional.

*Teachers greatly dissatisfied with manner in which Picardo dealt with claim

* Statement deemed to be totally inaccurate and misleading.

* Concerned with the way in which you are consistently rounding up percentages to make the claim seem more and more exaggerated, Picardo told. 

To begin with, The Teachers' Union, Gibraltar NASUWT, in a lengthy letter signed by their President Victor Gonzalez, tells Chief Minister Fabian Picardo that "there are a number of inaccuracies in your letter that we feel are imperative to clarify." And then go on as follows:

You said that you wanted to “set the record straight by making it clear once again” that there was never a counter-proposal to the pay adjustment claim. Unfortunately, this is not the case as you were not present at the meeting held on 15th March 2019 where Professor Cortes stated the following (clearly reflected in the official minutes prepared by the official side): ‘JC (John Cortes) informed those present that in the short period that had elapsed since the last meeting; the Government side had worked diligently at studying and preparing a credible proposal based on comparators, which were relevant to Gibraltar, which would now be shared with the Chief Minister for his consideration. JC further stated that he could not go into detail in the content of the counterproposal, but was certain that the Gibraltar NASUWT membership would not consider it an insult or a brush off. The CM (Chief Minister) had committed to meeting the Gibraltar NASUWT Executive on the 12th April at 14:30, a date by which the counterproposal will have materialised.’

The conversation that ensued also highlighted the following when members of the Executive requested viewing the counterproposal before the 12th April:

‘If the CM agrees with issuing the counterproposal before the 12th April, JC offered to convene a meeting, with document in hand, to offer it to the union, in order to negotiate the matter with the CM on 12th April.’

More so, in my email sent to you on 26th March 2019 I wrote: ‘Given that your counterproposal to this claim has already been prepared by Michael Crome and considering the recent developments with Brexit where the UK Government might have until 12th April to propose a different approach or leave the EU without a deal, we think that bringing the date forward would avoid a possible clash with both issues and a postponement of this meeting.’

The reference made to the counterproposal in this email was never questioned by you nor anyone else as being non-existent.

There was never anything other than a counterproposal being discussed at this and previous meetings. Therefore, let me reiterate the position of the union, which is that we never misled our members by telling them that a counterproposal would be presented to us on 12th April (postponed to 16th April) as this was the assurance given to us by the Minister for Education, reflected in official minutes.


As things stand, it was Government that went back on its word to Gibraltar NASUWT and to every teaching professional, says NASUWT.

Teachers are still greatly dissatisfied with the manner in which you have dealt with the claim as Minister for Industrial Relations. Everyone appreciates your efforts in trying to mitigate the effects of a soft, hard or other Brexit, but there have been many instances in the past year that could have been taken advantage of to advance the pay claim negotiations and we feel that you have simply not given teachers the priority they deserve. It is no coincidence that Government only decided to engage the union over the pay claim after teachers voted for action short of strike action, if there was no meaningful answer to the pay claim, in a symbolic ballot held by the union nine months after the claim was submitted.

Gibraltar NASUWT does not agree with your analysis that the claims submitted are “potentially personally lucrative”. That would imply that teachers are submitting gratuitous or frivolous claims via the union just to ask for more money without justification. We do not accept this and believe it to be an inaccurate representation of the values of teachers in Gibraltar. We urge you to revisit the rationale behind every claim submitted, including the pay adjustment claim, in order to reach a more evidence-based conclusion.

Inaccurate and misleading

We reject your statement that a member of our Executive Committee was unaware of the extent of the monetary value of some aspects of the pay claim, and deem them to be totally inaccurate and misleading. Neither do we accept that some members of our executive at the time of our demonstration outside No.6 did not understand the amounts involved in the claim (This is explained further in point 7 and subsection 7a). It is the government that has chosen to focus on one of the increments of the claim, namely the 46.15% in the first point of the scale, and give the impression to the general public that the entire claim is a 46.15% overall increase in salary.

We reaffirm our statement that the Government has subjected the claim to publicity. All the NASUWT pay claims from the various UK jurisdictions are published on its website. This is normal practice. However, the publicity arises as an indirect effect of the Government virtually ignoring the claim for nearly a year, antagonising teachers with empty promises (see point 1 for an example of this) and then engaging Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), to audit teachers’ workload, prompting further discontent among teaching professionals.

Govt given itself unilateral authority

On the involvement of PWC we would like to clarify once again that what was agreed was that they would have a limited participation in the process of the Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) review. On the 16th April you decided to inform the union that you would engage PWC in respect of the pay claim. The union executive never agreed to this and by extension neither did the membership. In fact, you mention in your letter that PWC is “therefore something that we agreed in the context of your having already also agreed the involvement of PWC in the TLR exercise”. We disagree with this analysis once again as it goes beyond the scope of implied consent. What government has done in this instance is use the consent given by the union to involve PWC in the TLR review and unilaterally given itself the authority to involve PWC in a completely different and separate claim. The union has therefore not withdrawn from any agreement, as none was reached in the first place over PWC’s involvement in the Pay Adjustment Claim.

The claim was never formulated in terms of percentages

Let me assure you that the members of the executive understand the amounts and rationale of the pay adjustment claim. However, seeing as Government has sought to focus on percentages as its line of negotiation it is important to reiterate that the claim was never formulated in terms of percentage increases. The executive did not sit down and arbitrarily take a figure of 46% for the lowest point, or any, in the salary scale out of a hat. Let me refer you to the pay adjustment claim itself:

‘In line with a motion presented and carried unanimously at the 2015 Gibraltar NASUWT Annual General Meeting, this association of teachers believes that the basic salary of qualified teachers in Gibraltar should be adjusted to reflect and to acknowledge the important and sterling work undertaken by teaching professionals. Gibraltar NASUWT proposes that the M6 scale be used as the starting salary for newly qualified teachers, and for the new teacher pay scale to contain 8 annual increments of 6% as shown in Table 7. We also propose that performance related pay be abolished because it is anomalous and counterproductive to good quality teaching and learning.’

The claim was never worked out in terms of percentage increases from the existing salary scale. In fact, the proposed new scale is completely different to the existing one, or to those in any other UK jurisdiction. We proposed moving from a 9-point scale to an 8-point scale and removing the threshold and performance related pay. Members agreed to this at the general meeting held at Bayside School on 16th November 2017.

The minutes reflected the following:

‘The arguments made by the Executive and by individual members was convincing and compelling. There was a strong feeling that a pay review is long overdue and that the work that teachers do both in the classroom and outside needs to be acknowledged with a pay increase which is fair and values our profession. The membership decided unanimously by show of hands (244 in favour, 0 against) to pursue a pay review with the Official Side. Three models were presented by the Executive as examples/ideas, but none to be taken as a definitive offer to present to the Government. It was decided that a working group will be constituted to pool ideas for potential pay increase models to be presented to the membership in our next General Meeting in February. This will include research into pay differentials between teachers and other public graduate jobs, as well as recent pay increases in other areas of the public sector. It was agreed that the membership will vote on the pay model to present to the Official Side at this General Meeting. The Executive will then begin a process of negotiation with the Official Side and keep members informed on any developments.’

The working group worked towards devising the rationale for the figures contained in the claim submitted in February 2018, and later in June 2018, nominating the M6 point of the current salary scale as the entry point for teachers, in other words the proposed new M1. There was never any intention to throw high percentages at Government in order to enter into a process of haggling to meet somewhere in the middle as you stated to the media recently. When balloted in February 2018, teachers backed the pay claim unanimously. From the 246 votes cast (65% participation) the teachers voted: YES – 246, NO – 0, BLANK – 0 in favour of the pay adjustment claim.

However, given that Government wishes to focus on percentages as this gives the claim a perceived air of sensationalism. We would like to draw your attention to the following:

The figures presented in your table labelled ‘TABLE OF CURRENT SALARY V CLAIMED SALARY & %’ are incorrect. In the column ‘CURRENT SALARY 18/19’ you have not included all of the current points on the scale and have attempted to compare ‘like with like’ when in fact the proposed salary scale has one less point. As a result, the columns ‘CASH INCREASE CLAIMED’ and ‘PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE’ are also incorrect. The figures are therefore inflated and seriously misleading. Official statistics show that the distribution of teaching professionals is negatively skewed (there are more teachers at the top end than the bottom end of the salary scale), therefore the statistically sound thing to do is omit the first, not the last point when comparing both salary scales (if one is to be omitted in the first place).

They then go on to provide Tables.

Percentages speculative

And add: Furthermore, since we have not begun the process of negotiation it is unclear how teachers would progress into the new scales so all percentage increases at this point are speculative of the impact they could have on the public purse. How teachers will transition to any new salary scale is something that would be discussed once negotiations have officially commenced.

The union’s rationale is that in the process of migrating from the 9-point scale to the proposed 8-point scale, both the current M1 (£25,852) and the current M2 (£27,895) would merge into the new M1 (37,783). Granted, the initial salary increase for those on the current M1 would be 46.15%, but considering that the majority, if not all, the teachers on this scale are supply workers (transitioning into permanency as teachers from the complement retire), the rise is more than justified given their precarious economic situation.

However, pay claim negotiations cannot take supply teachers into account as they are not considered part of the teacher complement. If Government decides to include them in their calculations, then we urge them to make all of them permanent. If not, then they must be omitted from the calculations. Government cannot have it both ways. Therefore, given that there are no permanent teachers on the M1 point of the scale, a 46.15% increase of £0 is £0 and therefore constantly referring to the 46.15% publicly is misleading. It further implies that teachers are looking for a 46.15% increase across the board. This does the spirit of honest negotiations no favours as it portrays teachers as lacking reasonableness, which we do not.

Grossly misleading

Your statement that the pay adjustment claim would mean increases of up to 66% in the 7-year period since June 2012 are also grossly misleading. We are very concerned with the way in which you are consistently rounding up percentages to make the claim seem more and more exaggerated.

In the 7-year period that the GSLP/Lib alliance has been in government, public sector inflation-related increases in salaries have risen by 18.85% (as seen on the table below) not the 20% round figure used to inflate the percentage increases of the claim.

Since the 46.15% increase has been placed into perspective above, the largest percentage increase using the government’s own rationale would be 54.29%, quite a way off the 66% or even 70% being bandied around. However, since the entire public sector has benefitted from the 18.85% increase over the past 7 years and this has not prevented Government from negotiating the pay and conditions of other sections of the public sector, we wholly reject that it should be used as an argument against teachers. We consider this line of argument discriminatory.


Furthermore, we find it outrageous that you would boast that in some parts of our civil and public service pay is now 30 to 40% above parity because you have literally put our money where your mouth is, whilst at the same time chastising teachers for the lack of reasonableness of their pay claim.

Gibraltar NASUWT would like to know which parts of the civil and/or public sector have had their pay inflated by up to 40% above parity; how and why. Additionally, given the massive nature of these increases we would like you to clarify whether PWC was ever engaged to advise Government prior to placing this recurrent economic burden on the taxpayer.

Gibraltar NASUWT has done exactly what you asked for in your opinion piece where you said that “any claims in respect of pay rises have to been seen in this context”. We understand the context that others are 12 to 13% above parity whilst teachers are on average 8.89% above parity, and that some sectors of the civil and public sector are 30 to 40% above parity. Therefore, the claim works towards redressing this discriminatory situation and the figures contained therein stand as our current demands.

Another point to consider is that in Jersey, a jurisdiction we have used to show how economic prosperity should translate into a better deal for teachers, salaries have risen once again this year (see table below). Whilst drawing loose comparisons with other jurisdictions, teachers in Gibraltar are seeking a model that is unique to Gibraltar. In fact, on more than one occasion we have made it known to the official side that Gibraltar NASWUT has a mandate to endeavour for the development of a Gibraltar Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document so that we may use our own economic prosperity and local expertise to drive any educational reforms and negotiations regarding salary claims and conditions of work.

However, at the time of submitting the claim the union decided to find economic similitudes with other jurisdictions like Jersey. This does not mean that we want a model exactly like Jersey’s (the points in the proposed salary scale of the pay adjustment claim are totally different) or that we do not acknowledge the differences between both territories. The comparisons are drawn as indicators of how two similarly prosperous territories value their teaching professionals.

Gibraltar NASUWT believes that all of the above is of public interest since the claim has now reached levels of public scrutiny that could have been avoided by Government. You ended your letter on 9th May 2019 stating that you reserved the right to publish it if you felt that your response was being misrepresented in some way. We would like to highlight that Gibraltar NASUWT did not misrepresent its contents, yet you published the letter anyway several hours later. As a result, we will be publishing this reply to your letter since our previous exchanges in correspondence appear to be out in the public domain.

Contrary to your interpretation of events, we did not publish our letter of 2nd May or circulate it widely. It was never sent to the media nor placed on the public domain before being handed to you outside No6. It was circulated amongst Gibraltar NASWUT members via email with a notice of embargo in line with the transparency and democratic principles which we uphold dearly: that members should be active stakeholders in influencing the actions of the executive which represent them. It was therefore the right and fair thing to do for members to see the letter written on their behalf to the Chief Minister.


Finally, they say, 'we sincerely hope that we can begin honest and fruitful negotiations on the pay adjustment claim for teachers very soon and that we can avoid members exercising their right to industrial action if that is the outcome of the upcoming ballot, which will be overseen by NASUWT UK.

We will continue to extend our hand to Government in the spirit of good relations so that both sides can strive to work towards a mutually beneficial resolution in what is likely to be a politically difficult year for government with a possible Brexit and an upcoming election. We therefore wish to resolve this claim as soon as possible so that government can concentrate on them fully.'