Industrial action on Gozo Channel as from midnight tonight
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In a statement issued today Gozo Channel has advised of an ongoing industrial dispute between the company and the Union Haddiema Maqghudin (UHM) as a result of which, Gozo Channel said, the UHM has yesterday, issued a number of directives to its members.
The company said that these include among others, a directive not to operate any extra trips which are not on the company’s timetable. These Directives came into force at midnight, today Friday, the 5th of May.
Gozo Channel stated that “the deadlock in negotiations with the UHM has been crystallised after the UHM made extraordinary requests for increases in pay in connection with negotiations for a new financial package for the Seaborne Officers of the company.”
The company went on to say that “the UHM has in fact made requests for salary increases which are over inflated to the current salaries for the grades of Master, Chief Engineer, Chief Officer, Second Engineer, Leading Electrical Officer Afloat and Electrical Officer Ashore, arguing that the salaries of the latter grades need to be revised in order to reflect the current market practices.”
Officers in the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER), following a request by the Union, called for a conciliation meeting between the Company and the UHM, which was held on Tuesday, and Gozo Channel said that “it was agreed that the company would submit a new financial package for all seaborne employees within two days.”
The Company said that it proposed “a sustainable package” with an increase in salaries across the grades concerned.
According to Gozo Channel, “within minutes after this proposal was submitted, the UHM informed the company of the directives that were being directed to the workers of the Company.”
The Company said that a second conciliation meeting was attempted by the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations, which the Union instantly refused.
Gozo Channel apologised for any inconvenience caused by the directives issued by the UHM, and appealed to all concerned “to act reasonably at a time when the public’s demand for an efficient service is increasing,”
The Company confirmed its commitment to attempt re-opening discussions with the Union in order to revert to a situation of industrial peace.
The Port and Transport Section within the UHM-the Voice of Workers, has said in its statement that from today it has ordered a series of industrial actions to Gozo Channel workers, following a disagreement over the collective agreement.
The Union said that some of the actions being ordered include: only scheduled trips as per the timetable and not to operate extra trips, and only one trip with a supply of fuel.
“Negotiations on this collective agreement have been ongoing for about a year and, to date, no agreement has been reached on the financial package,” the UHM said.
It added that “the Gozo Channel workers are responsible for more than 900 passengers each crossing and such responsibility is not being considered during the discussions.”
Kenneth Abela, UHM’s Employment Relations Manager, stated that “the UHM Voice of-the Workers is always available to reach an agreement, but if Gozo Channel does not review its position, this Union does not rule out increasing its industrial action.”
Photograph by Alain Salvary