Government suspends legal notices after employer bodies threaten to stop attending ERB meetings
The government has suspended a number of recently published legal notices dealing with working conditions after employer unions raised significant concerns over them.
The four employer organisations - namely the GRTU, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the Malta Employers Association and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association – yesterday said they were dismayed by the recent “introduction by stealth” of four legal notices relating to industrial and employment relations.
In a statement early yesterday, the employer bodies said the legal notices had been introduced without the knowledge of, or any form of consultation with, employer bodies on the eve of ‘Santa Marija’ – 14 August – a period commonly associated with shutdowns. The four organisations said they would stop attending any future Employment Relations Board (ERB) meetings until the situation had been rectified.
The government, in a statement following the announcement, said that the legal notices had been published after discussions with the social partners on the Industrial Relations Board, but said that as a sign of goodwill, given the current discussions, the Department Of Industrial And Employment Relations would suspend the notices. The government said it wold place them on the discussion table between it and the social partners regarding other improvements in working conditions promised in the Labour Party’s electoral manifesto.
In their statement yesterday, the four employer organisations also lamented the “significant departure from the spirit of healthy social dialogue which has existed so far at the ERB.”
“In fact, these four legal notices were never discussed by the ERB, a board set up to advise the minister concerned on any matters relating to conditions of employment – a practice that has always been observed so far.”
The recently introduced legal notices deal with the protection of employment in the case of business transfers, temporary agency workers and new regulations on itemised payslips and annual leave.
The employer social partners said that “without the necessary consultation, the four legal notices are going to give rise to severe disruptions in the labour market.”
“For this reason, the four organisations are officially requesting that the government put the four legal notices on hold until they are brought forward for discussion at ERB level subject to any amendments which proposed during this period.
“Only then will the four organisations return to the ERB discussion table.”
The government seems to have accepted this demand.
The employer representative bodies argued that “this procedure should have been followed in the first place and the employer bodies are surprised that in spite of their numerous attempts to create a balanced environment for social dialogue in the country, the authorities have decided to do away with consulting the main stakeholders represented on this Board.”
The four organisations questioned the point of having a body like the ERB “if normal procedure is not being followed and the authorities are introducing legal notices without prior consultation.”