No security of tenure for State Advocate under current setup - Jason Azzopardi

Jason Azzopardi says the constitutional article that states a two-thirds House majority is required for the State Advocate to be sacked, can be revoked with a simple majority

PN MP Jason Azzopardi
PN MP Jason Azzopardi

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has reiterated that there can be no security of tenure for the Office of the State Advocate under the current constitutional setup.

Despite the Constitution making it clear that a two-thirds majority is required in parliament to remove the State Advocate, Azzopardi said this clause would be removed through a simple majority.

Azzopardi had asked two parliamentary questions about the security of tenure for the Office of the State Advocate. Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis in his reply had mentioned how sub article five of article 91A of the Constitution states that a two-thirds majority was required to remove the State Advocate from office.

In a follow up question, Azzopardi asked whether Article 91A required a two-thirds parliamentary majority to be repealed but Zammit Lewis replied that he had nothing to add.

On Thursday, during a press conference on worker conditions, Azzopardi said: “I’m worried more than when I made the question. Although Article 91A speaks of two-thirds majority, the article can be revoked with only a simple majority. This is worrisome and there's no security of tenure.”

PN says government can't be trusted on worker conditions

Azzopardi spoke of a list of unkept promises by the government, most notably Minister Carmelo Abela, on matters concerning worker conditions.

He said how on 31 August 2020, Abela had said the government commissioned a report on the basic living income but then announced on 23 November 2020 it would remain internal.

Azzopardi mentioned how 3 December 2020, Abela had announced the government would set up an Industrial Tribunal, an amendment to the Wage Regulation Order and a legislative framework on remote working. He stated that on 19 May 2020, plans for the amending of employment law were also announced.

He quoted an article from November 2020, in which Abela had said that Malta aims to be one of the first EU countries that forces the right to disconnect. Also in February 2021, Abela had replied to a Parliamentary Question saying that studies on platform workers, who do not enjoy any working benefits, were being carried out.

For all the above, “nothing has been done,” said Azzopardi. “With words Carmelo Abela and Robert Abela say a lot, but their actions show otherwise. You can’t trust this government on the conditions of workers”.

PN candidate Paula Mifsud Bonnici said the government is taking workers for a ride, while the PN is promising better wages and conditions, for both public and private employees.

She spoke of government's broken pledge of equal pay for equal work, mentioning how employees with Steward Healthcare are earning less and have inferior working conditions than their publically employed counterparts.

PN candidate Clifford Zahra Fenech touched upon the financial incentives the PN is promising, of €6,000 for each worker to employers that increase investment in skills and salaries.