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Unions differ over TUC

Differences between Malta’s two biggest trade unions over the idea of setting up a Trades Union Council have surfaced once again.

The General Workers’ Union said it was all for unions standing united in the cause of protecting workers and their families and it would continue working towards making this unity a reality.

The union was reacting to a comment made to a newspaper by Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin general secretary Gejtu Vella, who reiterated his union’s position that the formation of a TUC would not benefit workers and that it was not the right time to form such a council.

The issue has come to the forefront from time to time over the last few years but has never came to fruition partly because of the concerns of some unions that they would lose their autonomy. The GWU said it would always be in favour of forming a TUC, adding that if unions were to unite it would not only be beneficial to themselves, because they would become stronger, but also to the workers.

Workers would be better off facing their difficulties if they were united and that was why it was very much the ideal time to form a TUC.

Its primary purpose, the union said, would not be to stop or change government decisions through industrial action. United action in a TUC would enable the unions to achieve better results through talks at all levels.

The GWU recalled it had been working to set up a TUC for years and had also backed John Bencini, the chairman of the Forum trade unions federation, when he had sought to set up a TUC about this time last year.

Its view, the union said, was that the formation of a TUC would not rob any trade union of its autonomy, something which had been amply proven in the UK.

Forum waded into the debate as well, criticising Mr Vella for his “categorical” statement that a council would not benefit workers. It said it now understood why the UĦM had refused to attend a meeting on the setting up of Għaqda Unions Maltin, aimed at bringing unions together to speak with one voice.

Forum said the UĦM was one of the social partners resisting its request to join the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, describing this as “unbelievable”.

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