27 September 2023

MALTA: Unions attack new PS rules

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Malta’s new Public Administration Bill has come under attack from a coalition of public sector unions who say it will change the working conditions of thousands of employees.

The FORUM coalition said there had been no consultation before the legislation was presented to Parliament.

FORUM said some of the clauses of the Bill were unacceptable, not least because they would enable the Government to make drastic changes to conditions of work and the organisation of the Public Service through a simple notice in the Government Gazette.

Listing some of its objections, FORUM said that, in the section on the values of the public sector, provisions against discrimination and impartiality were being weakened.

The Bill also provided that personnel who worked in inspectorates and Government regulatory authorities could not work in private companies for two years after leaving the public sector — a situation, FORUM said, that would hinder job mobility and career progression.

“The Bill has also introduced a Code of Ethics without consultation, despite the impact that this would have on working conditions,” FORUM said.

“In terms of the Bill, the Prime Minister would have the authority to offer different working conditions to workers in the same grade or with the same or a similar job title.”

It said the Prime Minister would also be able to remove or change grades and the structures of public administration without consultation.

FORUM said the Bill also provided that workers could be transferred from one entity or Agency to another even when they had different collective agreements.

Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat (pictured) has played down the concerns, claiming FORUM officials had misunderstood the law.

He said the Bill would not be withdrawn.

“I am informed that the Principal Permanent Secretary will be meeting with the concerned unions in the coming days and we will iron out any differences,” Mr Muscat said.

“This is not a question of withdrawing the law but a question of interpretation; we are simply not interpreting the proposed legislation in the same way that FORUM is.”

The Prime Minister did not comment on why the proposed Public Administration Act was not issued for public consultation.

Valetta, 1 December 2018

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