27 January 2005

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Talks on social pact continue
By Kurt Sansone
The social partners and Government were still locked in discussions over an agreement on the social pact Tusday, after marathon meetings on Tuesday concluded that Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was to come up with a blueprint for a social pact that would take into consideration proposals made by the unions and employers.
Until the time of going to print an agreement had not yet been reached, but sources inform The Malta Financial and Business Times that unions and employers had inched somewhat closer together. It is unclear whether the softening of the conflicting positions would be enough to enable all parties to agree on a workable social pact.
Hours of intense discussion have not yet produced a solution to the impasse that developed between unions and employers after Government's budget announcement that it will be reducing public holidays that fall on weekends.
After talks failed on Saturday a meeting of the MCESD with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was held on Monday and although no progress was registered the discussions were described as “constructive.”
Negotiations revolve around Government's budget proposal to cut down on public holidays that fall on weekends, a measure that was met with strong resistance by all the unions.
Employers have been urging Government to implement the measure before any broader agreement on a social pact to restore competitiveness. In a rare show of unanimity unions have strongly opposed any single-handed action by Government.

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