Malta Chamber joins call for urgent coronavirus meeting

Malta Chamber of Commerce joins unions’ calls for an urgent social partners meeting to discuss all matters related to Covid-19

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has pressed for an urgent discussion to guide Malta's employers on matters related to the coronavirus
The Malta Chamber of Commerce has pressed for an urgent discussion to guide Malta's employers on matters related to the coronavirus

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has joined the call for an urgent meeting of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development to discuss the situation surrounding the risk posed by the global spread of the coronavirus.

The Chamber said that there were several issues which needed clarity and resolution, as it pressed for an urgent discussion to bring about guidance to Malta’s employers based on sound measures and common sense.

Its urgent call join that of the General Workers Union, which earlier on Friday requested a discussion on a national plan for the prevention of Covid-19 and on other issues, such as the matter of quarantine leave for workers. The GWU asked MCESD chairman John Bencini for an urgent meeting between government and social partners.

Moreover, yesterday, the Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin said the government should appoint an urgent coronavirus committee made up of representatives including the Health Minister.

Sources told MaltaToday that, although an MCESD meeting is expected next week, no definite date has yet been set.

In a statement on Friday, the Malta Chamber said it had called on the country’s authorities to open urgent consultation on all matters related to Covid-19 and industrial relations and business. 

It said that a meeting of the Employment Relations Board had subsequently been called for 2 March, only for stakeholders to receive notice of cancellation shortly afterwards.

The Malta Chamber said that, while this morning scope of discussion seems to have been restored, this was now transferred to a meeting within the MCESD which would take place at an even later date.

“The Chamber, being aware of the fact the situation is escalating in other countries and regions, insists that time is not on our side. The situation is crying out loud for clarity, calm, common sense and consistency,” it said.

“The Chamber has meanwhile taken note of a circular issued on 26 February by the OPMs People and Standards Division which said that anyone travelling to affected countries after 28 February is required to stay at home for 14 days from the date of return and the employee will not be eligible for quarantine leave,” it highlighted.

It emphasised that urgent dialogue and consultation “were required in the interest of national health, because measures taken in the public sector must be complementary and applied in the private sector.”

“Complementarity is crucial to deal with likely situations whereby a quarantined person working in the government sector lives in the same household as someone else whose work in in a private business,” the Chamber said.

“There are several other issues that need clarity and urgent resolution so therefore we reiterate our call for urgent discussion to bring about guidance to employers based on sound measures and common sense that are applied at a nationwide level,” it added.

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