Malta Independent

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.”

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