In­dus­trial ac­tion or­dered at the Law Courts

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

Three sep­a­rate cases of in­dus­trial ac­tion were ini­ti­ated yes­ter­day at the Law Courts by Voice of the Work­ers Un­joni Ħad­diema Magħqudin (UĦM) over a num­ber of out­stand­ing is­sues ef­fect­ing clerks, mes­sen­gers and other court work­ers.

A col­lec­tive agree­ment that has taken over two years to be con­cluded, dis­crim­i­na­tory em­ploy­ment ap­pli­ca­tions and health and safety is­sues are among the is­sues that the UĦM is seek­ing to ad­dress through the in­dus­trial ac­tion.

This first is­sue re­lates to a col­lec­tive agree­ment re­gard­ing work con­di­tions of clerks and reg­is­trars at the Law Courts. Dis­cus­sions on the agree­ment have been go­ing for over two years now, UĦM Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions and Se­nior Man­ager Ed­win Balzan said while giv­ing com­ments to The Malta In­de­pen­dent.

The in­dus­trial ac­tion or­ders work­ers not to send or read emails, not to re­spond to tele­phone calls and not to up­load court judge­ments. He said that the UĦM and the work­ers find the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion “un­for­tu­nate,” adding how­ever that it is un­ac­cept­able for an agree­ment not to be con­cluded in such a large amount of time.

“Af­ter two years of dis­cus­sions, work­ers are still left with­out an agree­ment and are wait­ing for an un­der­stand­ing to be reached,” he said.

The sec­ond in­dus­trial ac­tion was is­sued on the ba­sis of calls for ap­pli­ca­tions for clerks and reg­is­trars, for which only those with diplo­mas are el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply. In ad­di­tion to this, whereas nor­mally such ap­pli­ca­tions are is­sued un­der scale 10 of the civil ser­vant pay-scale, it has now been is­sued un­der scale 11.

Mr Balzan said that this is dis­crim­i­na­tory as it ex­cludes a num­ber of highly ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers from ap­ply­ing, as many do not have a di­ploma, and also dis­crim­i­nates be­cause it leads to a sit­u­a­tion where two work­ers that have the ex­act same du­ties will be paid un­der a dif­fer­ent scale.

“As far as I know, Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment are all paid the same, be­cause they ba­si­cally do the same work,” said Mr Balzan.

“There is no jus­tice for the work­ers be­cause some will be do­ing the same work as oth­ers but will be get­ting paid less,” he said.

The third and fi­nal in­dus­trial ac­tion was or­dered over is­sues be­ing faced by court mar­shals, mes­sen­gers and clerks. With re­gard to clerks, Mr Balzan said there is a short­age of work­ers and that cur­rent staff are over­loaded. He also said there are a num­ber of health and safety is­sues, such as a large num­ber of highly flammable boxes strewn across the court reg­istry, block­ing pas­sage­ways and cre­at­ing a haz­ardous en­vi­ron­ment.

Mr Balzan said that if there is a fire, it would be very dif­fi­cult to get all court work­ers to safety. He also added that there is no­body present who has the train­ing to evac­u­ate work­ers safely.

With re­gard to court mar­shals and mes­sen­gers, Mr Balzan ex­plained that both men and women have the ex­act same uni­form, often ill-fit­ting and un­com­fort­able. He said that many-a-time the jacket does not match the trousers and that work­ers are given uni­forms that are of the wrong size.

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