Awareness of consumer rights has improved since Malta joined the European Union.
Greater awareness of consumer rights thanks to EU membership has increased strife between clients and workers in the retail sector, a report by the Centre for Labour Studies reveals.
An official of the Chamber of SMEs interviewed in the study contends that since Malta joined the EU, consumer rights have become a major source of controversy for shop owners.
The official is reported as saying that "since customers were being constantly told that they have rights as consumers - which is of course correct and important, however - it is also a major cause of arguments with shop assistants and owners as they sometimes imagine that they have more rights than they actually have and tend to get into heated arguments trying to prove their point".
One solution envisaged in the report is for salespeopleto be better educated about consumer rights.
The GRTU has proposed the inclusion of this information in the Employment and Training Corporation's "sales qualification course".
The GRTU is also proposing the inclusion of subjects such as handling third-party violence in commerce as part of the ETC sales courses and qualifications.
The ETC offers Basic Sales Techniques courses to clients who would like to work as salespersons - a 30-hour-long course that helps clients develop the necessary skills to sell and make a profit, and to be better equipped to win both deals and relationships with customers.
The course tackles various topics: communication and feedback, improving assertiveness and self-confidence, developing public relations and image, even learning how to handle cash and use a cash register.
On its part, the GRTU contends that so called 'third party violence' is causing loss of competitive advantage and value-added to businesses, and proposed the implementation of EU guidelines as part of the fight against this type of violence.
Approximately one in ten workers in the EU are experiencing some sort of third-party violence or harassment at their place of work. The violence comes from either work colleagues or from third parties such as customers and clients. These incidents at work have a direct impact on the productivity of employees and often result in absenteeism as well as poor performance.
The current guidelines include a clear definition of third party violence and the provision of "after incident" support.
The report published on the European Working Conditions Observatory was authored by Christine Farrugia from the Centre of Labour Studies.