19 January 2005

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Unions close to adopting common position
By Kurt Sansone

Malta’s union leaders will meet again today in a final effort to come up with a common position ahead of tomorrow’s MCESD meeting, which is to decide on measures to boost the country’s competitiveness and productivity.
Speaking at the end of yesterday’s day-long meeting, Professor Edward Zammit, acting as a mediator and spokesperson for the 20 unions, described the talks as “constructive”.
“Union leaders were engaged in a thorough effort to come up with more than one proposal to help boost the country’s productivity in line with what Government has asked them,” Zammit said.
The final round of talks today is very likely to produce a joint proposal by all the unions, which will see them uniting in a common front for the first time ever. A cautious Zammit, however, simply expressed his “hope” 0that union leaders would today emerge from the discussions with a single position.
Government decided to postpone the introduction of the budget measure to curb the number of public holidays after all unions except the UHM joined forces in a protest march in Valletta last week. The UHM had also requested an MCESD meeting to discuss the controversial budget measure, which was slated by all unions.
At the MCESD meeting Government backed down and asked unions to come up with their own proposals aimed at increasing productivity. Yesterday’s meeting was historic in that it brought all the country’s unions, including the GWU and UHM, together in a bid to enter Thursday’s meeting with a common proposal.
None of the union leaders yesterday would comment to the press so as not to prejudice the possibility of reaching a broad agreement during today’s meeting.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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