Court employees union expresses concern about negotiations over expired collective agreement

Negotiations between the Court Services Agency and trade unions are set to resume after being put on ice before last month's general election

Negotiations between the Court Services Agency and trade unions are set to resume after being put on ice before last month's general election, the Court Services Agency CEO has confirmed - but only with recognised trade unions.

Earlier this week, employees from the Court Services Agency reached out to the press to express their frustration at the fact that a new collective agreement negotiated by their trade unions with the Agency has not yet been signed, despite the previous agreement having expired three years ago.

Negotiations had stopped last month in the run-up to the general elections but have not restarted since despite nearly four weeks having passed. 

Law Courts Employees Union president Simon Simpson told MaltaToday that despite the pressure exerted by the Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin (UĦM) and the Law Courts Employees Union, there appeared to be no progress. This has led to the loss, to different government departments, of a number of employees who had reached the grade of Principal, he said.

Another issue causing concern to court workers, Simpson said, was the fact that the new Minister for Justice, Jonathan Attard, had not yet visited the court building in the month since he took office. 

The union president added that it was pleased to see that Parliament employees represented by the General Workers Union (GWU) had succeeded in negotiating improved conditions recently. However, with regards to the courts’ employees, the administration was still “dragging its feet” in similar negotiations, he said.

Court Services Agency 'working with recognised unions' - CEO

Contacted for comment in the light of the union’s claims, Court Services Agency CEO Eunice Grech Fiorini denied the allegation that the agency was dragging its feet and insisted that her organisation “continues to work with the recognised unions, meaning the GWU and UĦM, with the aim of improving workers’ conditions.” Asked whether this implied that the Law Courts Employees Union was not recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining, the CEO specified that "the recognised unions are GWU and UĦM."

Grech Fiorini pointed to the recent conclusion of negotiations with the GWU with regards to the judiciary’s chauffeurs, resulting in the ratification of a new collective agreement with those workers.

Discussions and negotiations with UĦM were at an advanced stage, said the court agency CEO, but several scheduled meetings with that union, intended to finalise the collective agreement, had to be postponed due to the General Elections and the prior electoral campaign. These meetings will continue in the coming days, Grech Fiorini said.

This was confirmed by UĦM Deputy CEO Gian Paul Gauci, who stressed that UĦM had been selected to lead the negotiations as it represented over 50% of the agency's employees.