Coronavirus: Social partners should be involved in government measures, union says

UHM said that the mini-budget announced by the government to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis would not prevent chaos 

UHM chief Josef Vella
UHM chief Josef Vella

UHM, Voice of the Workers, said that unions should be present, together with other social partners, at the government’s drawing board when coming up with new economic measures, especially in light of the fact that the measures announced by the government were not going to prevent chaos.

“The custom of having social partners find out about these measures through a press conference shouldn’t keep happening. This is the moment when social dialogue should be practiced,” Josef Vella, UHM chief, said.

Vella added that after the latest mini-budget announced by the government to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis, UHM had more questions than answers.

The union said that the measure of introducing a temporary benefit of €800 per month to those employees who have lost or will lose their job is not enough, slightly more than a minimum wage.

“We already have a crisis with the coronavirus and we don’t want this crisis to precipitate other crises to the detriment of workers and their families. The measures are not enough to safeguard the interests of the union, which is the employment and salaries of its members,” UHM said.

Such measures, it added, will result in a number of workplaces taking the drastic measures of either closing-up shop or sending their employees back home with unpaid leave.

“The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development is not just there for meetings. This forum should be used through which measures should be agreed upon by everyone. This is not a fight between employee and employer because if the employee drowns, the employer will follow,” Vella said.

He added that the measures coming out of Castille on Wednesday were measures that surprised everyone.

“The social partners don’t deserve this. We have earned a better packet of measures in the interest of the country based on our participation in the economic dialogue.”

UHM appealed to the government to control the prices of essentials like good, medicine and hygiene products “because we might get to the point where in order to buy something essential, one has to sell his gold.”