The Chamber notes the news reports that the Government will be introducing new working hours for public sector workers from 12th May. The Chamber has been aware of the Government’s intention to introduce these new hours for some time and in principle opposed these as it would lead to disparate working conditions between the public sector and the majority of the private sector. Whilst opposed, the Chamber engaged with Government and unions in relation to the proposed hours to ensure, as far as possible, that private sector interests were not prejudiced. The Chamber believes that the public sector’s primary role is to serve the private sector as it is the private sector which generates around three quarters of Gibraltar’s economic output.
One of the main concerns of Chamber members is the capacity to interact with various Government departments more easily. In a poll conducted among our members in late 2013, two thirds of respondents said that they preferred dealing with Government departments either face to face or electronically. For this reason the Chamber had urged the Government to ensure that any changes to public sector working hours must coincide with full e-Government across all departments as well as extended counter hours until 4.30pm. Full e-Government is a complex task and will be difficult to achieve, but it is a very worthwhile goal as it helps companies in the private sector as well as the public sector to become more efficient. The Chamber welcomes that some of its recommendations appear to have been taken on board. However, it is a pity that full e-Government will not coincide with the new hours announced by the Government and regrets that despite its recommendations for counters to remain open until 4.30pm, counters will only open till 3pm.
Nevertheless, the Chamber welcomes the introduction of additional e-Government services at the end of May and hopes others will follow soon after. The Chamber also hopes that the extended counter hours, whilst falling short, will lead to an improved service for all users of government departments and also to greater efficiencies across the Civil Service and will be closely monitoring the situation.
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