Gibraltar's workers are not bargaining chips for e...

McCluskey: Gibraltar's workers are not bargaining chips for either London or Madrid

03 April 2017

Reacting to the mounting uncertainty about the position of Gibraltar in the upcoming Brexit talks, the leader of the biggest union on the Rock, Len McCluskey of Unite, has today (Monday 3 April) warned the UK government to stop messing with the future of 7,500 working people.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey warned that the UK government has appeared not to grasp the implications for Gibraltar's working people who rely on the ability to cross the border with Spain every day in order to work and trade.

But he also warned that the Spanish proposal for a veto to stop the application to Gibraltar of any new trade deal between the EU and the UK is very dangerous for workers. This effectively means that those beginning their working life after the 30 March 2019 will not have the same rights and freedoms as those working on the Rock today.

Calling for both the UK and Spanish governments to ease workers' fears about their futures on Gibraltar, Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary said: “Unite is the biggest union on the Rock so it is our duty to speak up on behalf of the 7,500 people who work there. The implications of a ‘hard’ or bungled Brexit on our Unite members and Gibraltar's industries are deep and serious. 

"Unite members, Gibraltar residents, Gibraltarians and EU residents all cross the border between Spain and the Rock every day, keeping the local economy strong.

“The people of the Rock don't want sabre-rattling and war-mongering by some on the right of the Conservative party. What they want to be told, now and in clear terms, is that they will not be used as bargaining chips in some bigger diplomatic game. 

“Unite's many members on Gibraltar - those from the Rock, Spain, and of other European nationalities - will be heartened to hear that the government of Gibraltar has said it will respect the rights of existing Spanish and EU workers in Gibraltar. 

“I am calling on the London and Madrid governments to follow suit. Do not play around with people's lives, rights and futures, but sign up to the call of the government of Gibraltar for ‘dialogue not vetoes’.

“Unite members are the backbone of the Rock. They keep the streets clean, work in construction, logistics, engineering and many other sectors. So when they are standing up for decent treatment and a fair future, they are standing up for the people of Gibraltar. Their union will be with them on this all the way.”

Unite has 7,500 members who work on the Rock. There are a total of 12,000 cross frontier workers in Gibraltar. 


For further information please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861, or email 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.