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PTU president says GWU section secretary Charles Agius ‘in a slumber’ over workers’ rights.
5 July 2012, 12:00am
Samuel Grech said over 100 members had resigned the GWU and joined the new PTU, which claims 170 drivers.
"The GWU has tried to ridicule us by saying we are aiming at a 60% increase in salaries in the first year of the collective agreement. This is a bare-faced lie that is intended at undermining our credibility," Grech said.
"The truth is we had been long insisting with section secretary Charles Agius to wake up from his slumber and present our justified demands to Arriva."
Grech said it was months before the drivers' futile attempts at convincing Agius to put their demands forward resulted in the impasse with the union. "We made every effort to convince the GWU to do what it says in public over precarious labour and health and safety on the workplace. But the GWU never took any clear position on these basic workers' rights
Grech also denied GWU claims that lawyer Robert Abela had convinced them to resign from the GWU, but accused the union of refusing Abela's attempts at rapprochement and insisting in negotiating with Arriva on their own terms.
"It was at this point that we decided to form our own union... the GWU is spreading false allegations that our members have withdrawn their resignations but this is not true," Grech said.
The PTU also informed the director of industrial relations to instruct the GWU to destroy all data of its former members, but claims the union is still using their personal addresses by appealing to them to withdraw their resignations. "The GWU is also sending membership forms to new Arriva drivers who are not its members. This is data obtained in a clandestine manner by employees in Arriva management," Grech said.
On his part, section secretary Charles Agius has challenged Grech to reveal what his demands for salary increments were.
"We are insisting that the 60% increase in their salary was one of Grech's demands, and this was refused outright by the Arriva management because it is an unsustainable request. If Grech wants to sue us for libel, we'll present our evidence proving that the 60% increase is what the PTU is demanding," Agius told MaltaToday.
Agius also said that amongst the 100 resignations were letters from drivers who were not even GWU members. "And some workers are withdrawing their resignation. We will be informing Arriva management of the full number of GWU members shortly," Agius said, without stating exactly the official number of withdrawn resignations.
"Our main aim is to conclude the collective agreement. What Arriva workers need now is unity, not division, because this collective agreement is being created from scratch and it takes time."
GWU secretary-general Tony Zarb has refused to state the number of Arriva drivers who have withdrawn their resignation from a new trade union formed for Arriva drivers.
The GWU has insisted that "several" drivers had withdrawn their resignation and will continue being members of the union. Zarb insisted that it was the GWU "that was telling the truth" but he turned down a request by MaltaToday to publish the number of the drivers who had now decided to remain with the GWU.
"The fact is that several workers have reconsidered their decision and we will be notifying the management at Arriva of this development," Zarb said.
Some 170 Arriva drivers have formed their own house union - the PTU - after disagreeing with the collective agreement being negotiated with Arriva by the GWU. Aided by their lawyer Robert Abela, 100 of these reportedly sent their resignation letter to the union. The PTU had added that more resignations were expected.
Matthew Vella is editor of MaltaToday.com.mt.
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