GWU asks UK minister to 'investigate' High Commission to Malta
The General Workers' Union's has urged David Lidington the UK's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate the treatment of Maltese workers employed by the British High Commission in Malta.
Mr Lidington is currently visiting Malta.
The union noted that an industrial tribunal had on three occasions found against the High Commission. A similar decision was taken in a case before the Court of Appeal.
The union said that in the past five years the British High Commission had made the following redundant – Five Security Officers, 1 Gardener, 1 Butler, 2 employees from the commercial section, 2employees from Corporate Section, 1 driver, four employees in the British Pensions Office. Furthermore the British High Commission abruptly terminated a definite contract of employment of an employee in the Consular Section.
The union also published the following questions about the situation in Malta put in the House of Commons:
Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many industrial tribunal claims or civil court claims were lodged in which the British High Commission in Malta stood as defendant in the last eight years; and how many such cases were lost.
Mr Lidington: In the last eight years, six cases have been lodged with the industrial tribunal in which the British high commission in Malta has stood as defendant. Four of these cases have not yet reached their conclusion. To date, the high commission's decision-making has always been confirmed by the tribunal as being justified and correct; and the high commission has never been found guilty of breaking the law concerning employees. However, the High Commission has been directed to pay compensation in some cases. The High Commission has lodged appeals in two cases which will be heard in 2013.
Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 23 April 2012, what the reasons were for the implementation of the verification exercise.
Mr Lidington: The collective agreement between the British High Commission and the General Workers' Union (GWU) states that the High Commission has the right to withdraw recognition of the union for collective bargaining purposes should the membership of the union amongst British high commission staff fall below 50% + 1. Recognition of the GWU was withdrawn because they no longer had the support of a majority of staff, and their demands were unreasonable and unrealistic. The GWU requested the verification exercise to confirm whether or not they had a majority; the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations determined that the union did not have a majority.
Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 23 April 2012, whether the local trade union in Malta has requested to reduce its recognition for collective bargaining purposes.
Mr Lidington: The General Workers' Union stated to the Directorate of Industrial and Employment Relations that if the union no longer represented an absolute majority of staff then it expected the British high commission to reduce recognition to supervisory, clerical and industrial grades. Maltese law makes no provision for this. The British high commission believes that the union should represent all grades of locally engaged employees, not selected grades.
Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many redundancies were made by the British High Commission in Malta in the last five years; under what legislation such redundancies were made; what legal advice was requested by the commission in respect of redundancies; and whether the high commission has lost any tribunal or court case in relation to those redundancies.
Mr Lidington: In the last five years there have been six redundancies within the British High Commission in Malta. The High Commission implemented these in full consultation with the British High Commissioner's honorary legal adviser, who advised in accordance with Maltese labour law. The British High Commission has only once been directed by the Court of Appeal to compensate an employee as a result of redundancy. Two other cases are still sub judice.