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Gozo hoteliers held onto manager’s pay over ‘lack of apology’

Court orders two Gozo hotel directors to pay sales manager over €3,000 in wages and bonuses which they held onto until the man apologises for causing a family offence

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
14 November 2017, 12:43pm
Last updated on 14 November 2017, 5:06pm
Two hotel directors in Gozo were fined €1,000 each and ordered to pay a former sales manager over €3,000 in unpaid salary and bonuses, which they held onto against an apology for tarnishing their reputation.

Mother and daughter Mary Rose Vella and Charmaine Vella were charged with failing to pay €3,252 in wages to Scotsman Ian Scott Moyes after the latter resigned his employment, for harming the Vella family’s reputation. The manner of the harm does not emerge from the judgment. In comments to this site, Moyes said he had resigned due to non payment after six months. 

Charmaine Vella, director of All Seasons Holidays Ltd, the operating company, told the court that she would not pay him the outstanding amount “until he publicly apologised to her for the damage he had caused to her and her family.” Moyes insists that there were no allegations at the time of his resignation.  Less than a year after his resignation, Moyes had been taken to court by the hotel's general manager over allegations of harassment, which Moyes - a photojournalist- explained were his writing of articles on Facebook about the fact that the hotel was not paying its staff. 

The court observed that this was not the first time that the Vellas had failed to pay their employees.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud said that while he understood the difficulties they might have had the court had given them at least three opportunities to rectify the situation. “The failure of the accused can be seen as exploitation of workers, that can never be accepted in our society.”

The authorities should warn potential employees about the risks of working with certain companies which were often reported for failing to pay their workers, the court suggested.

The court gave short shrift to the directors’ unilateral decision to make payment conditional to an apology, saying the law was clear that there can be no reduction from salaries unless this was the result of a trade union agreement or a court order. “This means that the company, through its directors, could never legally tie payment or otherwise of the wages due to Moyes with an apology or any other condition.”

What might have occurred between Moyes and the accused in their role as directors of All Seasons Holidays Limited was “entirely irrelevant” to the case, said the court.

Once Moyes had been working for the hotel, it said, he was entitled to receive his entire pay. “Nothing more and nothing less.”

The Court quoted a declaration made to new University of Malta graduates last week, on the theme “Be friends of the poor”: “Mankind has been reduced to a simple mechanical instrument needed for the system to work – not the system for the person, but the person for the system! Wherever people are ‘used,’ all earnings are dishonest.”

In comments to the MaltaToday, Moyes said his former employer had been ordered to pay him in a separate case, 14 months ago, but the amount was still outstanding. There is little question of the Scotsman giving up.

"I am owed €3252.82 and I will satisfy myself with nothing less than every penny I'm owed," Moyes said.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...