26 FEBRUARY 2003

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Agreement reached by Government and GWU on Lm2.50 weekly increase

By Matthew Vella

General Workers Union officials have told The Malta Financial and Business Times the agreement between Government and the Union had been reached upon an acceptance of approximately Lm2.50 a week.
Discussions are still underway, however, to finalise all aspects of the Enemalta collective agreement, which expired on 31 December, 2001.
GWU Secretary-General Tony Zarb told this paper the agreement had been centred around wage increases, increases in allowances and changes in work hours. Zarb also said the rate agreed was very close to the Lm2.50 mark.
Sources close to this paper stated the initial rate demanded by the union had originally been of a Lm4 increase a week.
There have been no disclosures however, from the ministries involved in the Enemalta package negotiations.
Economics Services Ministry spokesperson Ray Cachia Zammit told The Malta Financial and Business Times it was still too early and dangerous to disclose the details of the package.
Cachia Zammit said there were still some issues that had been brought up by the GWU President and shop stewards on allowances. Talks between GWU officials took up most of yesterday’s activities as finalisations on the package agreed by Government and the Union were still undergoing discussion.
Cachia Zammit said the agreement would more or less be reflecting a realistic assessment of the matter at hand.
Social Policy Ministry spokesperson Alan Camilleri said that although a basis for broad agreement had been reached, discussions on rates and allowances would be stretching through the whole week. Asked whether the increase in rates would be absorbed by the consumer, Camilleri said there were no plans for an increase in utility rates.
Earlier this week, a four-day strike was brought to an end after broad agreement over the financial package was reached between the two sides. With fuel dispatchers stopping all deliveries to pumping stations, the strike action risked entering its fifth day, bringing the country to a standstill as long queues of cars lined up along the roads to the filling stations.
The impasse was caused due to disagreement between both sides on a difference of Lm1 in the weekly increase.
The dispute started last week when Enemalta employees were told by the General Workers Union to work to rule and halt communication by telephone, fax or e-mail. The effects of the action were soon hitting the country hard as no fuel was being delivered to the pumping stations, with public transport and mini-buses fearing they would soon grind to a halt.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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