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Civil protection staff feeling ‘hurt and demotivated’

Civil protection staff have called for the right to join a trade union.

Civil protection staff have called for the right to join a trade union.

The Civil Protection Staff Association yesterday delivered a passionate plea to the three political parties, saying its members were demotivated, drained and hurt after a “bureaucratic martyrdom” lasting 14 years.

There are few people like us who face danger where others escape it, but we are being pulled around like puppets

The association’s president, Emanuel Psaila, appealed to the authorities to grant the association the right of representation and to address its requests concerning the Civil Protection Department’s working conditions, problems which had remained unsolved throughout the years.

He pointed out that, like the three disciplined forces (police, the armed forces and prison warders), the CPD was not allowed representation at union level but, unlike them, members did not benefit from early retirement schemes.

Addressing himself to the three parties’ representatives during the CPD’s annual general conference yesterday, Mr Psaila called for the association to be given the right to belong to a trade union, while recognising that it could not go on strike.

He said it was also seeking the allowances to which other civil servants were eligible, such as a shift allowance and others stemming from the dangerous nature of their jobs.

He also called on the authorities to contribute to the Home Welfare Fund which the association had set up for insurance cover.

In a seven-year court battle, the association had called upon the Government to set up a joint negotiation council which would oblige it to discuss welfare, pay, bonuses and other matters regarding non-disciplined sectors of workers who offer an essential service to the nation and have no right to strike.

Last year, the Court of Appeal obliged the Government to establish this council and to negotiate with the CPD regarding pending matters.

However, there had been no further progress after the Attorney General requested a retraction of the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Mr Psaila stressed that, as workers, members of the CPD were “unique”.

“By ‘unique’, I’m not referring to the nature of our job, despite the fact that there are few people like us who face danger where others escape it, but because we are being pulled around like puppets.”

Addressing the PN’s Gejtu Vella, the PL’s Michael Falzon and AD’s Carmel Cacopardo, he continued: “Don’t you agree with us that we shouldn’t remain ‘unique’? Don’t you think there should be compensation for people who dedicate their lives saving that of others? Can you imagine a 65-year-old fireman climbing up the ladder?”

In response, all three parties pledged themselves to fulfilling the association’s requests.

When asked whether the Government will be recanting its retraction, Mr Vella replied that if the association was allowed to voice its concerns within a union, it would no longer need the joint negotiation council.

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