Get in again?
Someting is rotten in the
state of Denmark British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. Or maybe the natives, and the imports too, are getting restless.
Actually pretty much all of the Gib population was imported from somewhere, whether Sephardi Jews, Maltese, Spaniards, Genoans, Portuguese, Moroccans or British.
So, what’s the issue?
Well, three years ago this month, it was all change in Gibraltar as after sixteen years we finally got a change of government. The GSD, who I tend to think of as the German Shepherds although I think they could possibly be Gibraltar Social Democrats, were ousted by the GSLP, Socialists and Liberals.
Change was in the air. In fact the GSLP electoral slogan was ‘Time for Change’. The GSLP got in with a three and a half thousand majority, around two per cent. Not much, but enough.
We looked forward to a more assertive stance on Gib’s independenc and no back door sovereignty deals that were the hallmark of the Caruana/GSD era, full employment for Gibraltarian residents favoured over cross border workers, more government housing and general investment in the public sector. Typical left of centre manifesto basically.
And indeed, come the new year, the job centre had a zillion jobs, whereas previously there were none apart from
gambling gaming. Firms and organisations were told they must go through the job centre, although it seemed the government jobs were exempt from that rule. Still, mustn’t carp.
I got a number of interviews, Partner went for two and landed both jobs. Who needs a couple of degrees and a journalism qualification and a health services management one and a trade union one and … when you really need to be a qualified tradesperson in construction? Note: I have the same trade papers as Partner, just that painters and decorators are more in demand than journalists.
So life was cool.
Over time, the jobs started disappearing out of the job centre. But people were still getting work. Cross-border workers were still coming in, many of them on the black, undercutting the going skilled, and unskilled rate. And what did the government do to ensure jobs for local residents?
They set up a list to ring unemployed people about prospective jobs from a call centre. No, it wasn’t from Ireland or Bangladesh, it was in Gib. I was told a number of times I would be rung. I never was.
After about eight months, Partner was laid off, as were a few others when the job ended. Fast forward twelve months, and he bumped into a former workmate who said one of the supervisors would like him to start work on the previous firm. So he did.
When he went to the office to sort his contract, he was told his name hadn’t been on the list of painters sent by the job centre. Hmmmm.
Fast forward another twelve months and that job finished so it’s unemployment time again, unless you count looking after the broken ankle woman as employment.
‘There’s a list,’ said a British pal. ‘There are construction jobs on there, ask about it at the job centre.’
So he did.
‘What list? There’s no list,’ said the
jumped-up clerk employment advisor. ‘Go find a job on the street.’
We’d obviously got duff info from our contact, who is a pensioner anyway. Then Partner met a former workmate. Nice lad, Gibbo, good worker and very personable.
‘Oh, yeah. I got a job with this other firm. They got my name off the list.’
Not that all Gibbos are racist and discriminatory but if you don’t have a Gibbo surname … You ain’t going to make the non-existent list.
How about some more horror stories?
People being promised contracts in Gib, shipped in from outside in areas of zilch unemployment. When they get here, their pre-signed contracts are ripped up and they are given a newer one on a lower rate. What choice do they have? Oh, and it’s up to 12 hours a day six or seven days a week.
Then there was the worker who fell down a hole that shouldn’t have been there. They told him to get himself to hospital. Given that he couldn’t walk that was a tough call. They took him and dumped him at the bottom of the hospital steps, that he had to crawl up.
What about the scaffolding firms? Sack all the employees and tell them they can come back as self-employed. Meanwhile, for some reason, more and more Spanish scaffolding firms are seen around using Spanish labour while Gib firms are laying off local staff and going out of business.
My newshound on the street was chatting to a customer who is a staunch socialist. Apparently someone had come out of prison, set up a business and been given loads of work.
Lots of Gibraltarians are racist. Lots aren’t. Some like the British, ‘We wouldn’t be here without you. Franco would have rounded us up and put us in concentration camps.’
In conversations on the bus, more and more Gibbos are dissatisfied with the unemployment. And the amount of Spaniards who are employed in Gib, especially on government jobs.
‘Same old story,’ they say. ‘They’re doing what they did before and feathering their own nests.’
‘The people who have been allocated right-to-buy new government housing are all mates or family of those in power.’
‘We’re not voting for them again.’
Have I mentioned backhanders? We priced a job recently and had to factor in 10% on top of the price for the contact’s cut. For passing on a ‘phone number. The irony was that Partner had worked in the block before and if the brain dead twerp he knew had thought to contact him that would have been a few hundred quid off the price.
We looked (well he looked, I looked at the photos) at another job.
‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly take anything if you get the job for the staircase and hallways because that’s for the management committee and they pay me. I just take £50 if you get a job in a private flat,’ said the caretaker.
But, the word on the street is, that it’s how to get government jobs too.
Greed. Don’t you just love it.
It’s not just Gibbos. Brits here are equally grasping and often totally illegal. One person we know who works for a public sector department I had better not name, told us he has no ID, no residency, doesn’t pay tax, has his money paid into his UK bank account …
Of course, these may all be stories and not remotely true.
True (?) anecdotes
Here is a true story though. It is only second hand, at any rate. Partner was walking a dog, probably Snowy, and was chatting to a dog-walking Gibbo neighbour.
Up walks a government minister and says to her, totally ignoring Partner, ‘Quien es el?’ (Who’s he?)
‘Un vecino,’ (A neighbour), she replied rolling her eyes at Partner.
‘Yes,’ said Partner. ‘I live just down there.’
Minister does double take at patently obvious Brit with GUIRI (WOG) stamped on his forehead being able to understand Spanish, and said something to that effect. And quickly added what a nice Podenco Snowy was. Luckily Snowy didn’t bite said minister to bits.
But not a good way to get a repeat vote, dear racist anti-Brit minister.
Down the same street, Partner met a couple of Brits, been here years.
‘I’m not voting GSLP again,’ she said.
‘I don’t know,’ said her partner, ‘I’m socialist, so I don’t want to vote for the others.’
‘Me too,’ said Partner.
But the clincher came the other day. Someone told Partner bus fares are going to be reintroduced in the new year. Horrors! Paying for buses? An election loser if ever there was one. No idea if its true or just rumour though.
What has the GSLP done in three out of four years in power? Started off well with employment and gone down the rattle ever since.
Achieved stuff all re border queues and territorial waters invasions although that is a UK responsibility (ie defence and foreign affairs).
Scrapped a few hundred parking places to build a park. I’ve not seen it since finished apart from a fleeting glimpse from the back of an ambulance.
Proposed ruining Europa Point with a football stadium and desecrating parliament building with an external glass lift.
I’m sure there are other achievements and no doubt we will be told about them over the next 12 months.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is already preparing as he’s had a ministerial reshuffle.
Employment minister Joe Bossano has been
sidelined given a new portfolio of economic development. In an interview on GBC, he denied being sidelined and talked about getting a thousand people into work and saying he’d done his job and there was no point creating employment opportunities when there were no unemployed people to fill those posts. Um. That isn’t how it feels on the street, Joe.
And if nearly everyone’s working, (which they aren’t), what’s poor old Neil Costa going to do now that he’s been handed the poisoned chalice of (un)employment?
GBC polled 650 people giving them a choice of eight topics, to rank in order of importance. The clear winner was a new power station. Uh? It received 25% of votes. Employment was second with 19% of votes, followed by the state of public finance, and, commerce/frontier fluidity, coming joint third with 12.5%.
Frontier fluidity? Why didn’t they just say ‘pissed off with border queues’. And what has that to do with commerce apart from Gibraltarians visiting Spain for cheap goods and Spaniards visiting Gib for, specifically, cheap fuel, tobacco, spirits, chocolates and perfume?
My top four are, first, unemployment, followed by border queues, public finance and the proposed vile stadium at Europa Point. That leaves housing, traffic/parking, the power station, and ad hoc chats with Spain, none of which I care hugely about. Except ad hoc talks was linked with territorial waters intrusions. Just like border queues were linked with commerce. Who designed the poll? Colourworks carried it out, but still, where was sovereignty on the list?
The same poll said more than half of the electorate, ie more than 325 people out of 650, was undecided about who to vote for in the next election. Ignoring those don’t knows gave the GSLP a strong lead. No. That is not how to interpret a poll of 650 people. Floating voters are key in elections. Ignoring how they could vote is silly. And 300+ voters is not statistically significant when we are looking at nearly 22,000 voters. Are numerical journalists no longer employed?
Seems Picardo has now issued a register of electors order for February 2015. Could we be voting in less than a year? Will people give them the benefit of the doubt? Has Picardo worked out that not everyone is entirely happy or convinced they have fulfilled their election pledges?
And my boys say:
Do we support the German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) next year or German Shepherds Love Podencos (GSLP)?