Nurses and midwives overwhelmingly approve new pay agreement

Nurses approve by 87% pay agreement reached between MUMN and Health Ministry • Agreement will boost incomes, encourage young people to join profession

Mater Dei Hospital (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Mater Dei Hospital (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Nurses in all grades will receive a management allowance and extra hours worked will now be compensated at overtime rates under the terms of a new agreement.

The measures are just two benefits nurses and midwives will acquire following lengthy and at times, acrimonious discussions between their union and the government.

On Friday, members of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses overwhelmingly approved the new sectoral agreement.

In a statement, the MUMN said the vote “exceeded all expectations” with nurses and midwives approving the new agreement by 87%.

“MUMN is proud to confirm that most of its proposals for such an agreement had been accepted and will be introduced during the five-year term of this agreement,” the union said, adding the agreement will be signed in the coming days.

Among other measures, the agreement will also introduce new incentives to encourage young people to join the nursing and midwifery profession, while retaining the existing workforce.

Nurses had embarked on industrial action earlier this year following a breakdown in talks and eventually rejected government’s final offer.

Talks then resumed with the Health Ministry and most of the proposals put forward by the union were eventually accepted.

A bone of contention had been the remuneration of the extra 6.6 hours that nurses and midwives work as part of their normal roster. These hours used to be paid at a flat rate. In line with the union’s demands, these extra hours will now be paid at overtime rates in what is expected to be a significant boost in income for nurses.

The MUMN said that new allowances will be introduced for all new graduates and all existing allowances will increase.

Furthermore, government has backed down on its insistence to introduce a palm reader. The MUMN said that the palm reader will only be introduced for nurses and midwives when all employees, irrespective of their salary scales, start using the palm reader as well.

The agreement also states that any new IT systems such as the robotic drug dispensing system, which the union insists was a failure, cannot be imposed on nurses unless implemented in agreement with MUMN.

Another bone of contention that the government appears to have yielded to was the union’s proposal not to have allowances deducted when employees are on sick leave if there is no abuse of sick leave.

Health Minister Chris Fearne welcomed the nurses’ vote, describing the decision on X, formerly Twitter, as “a positive outcome for nurses and ultimately for patients”.