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Career progression

I refer to the article titled ‘UĦM signs agreement “under protest”’ (September 1).

For reasons known, your correspondent focused solely on one source of information without deeming it fit to contact the public administration about the agreement regulating the caring stream.

To put things into perspective, the agreement will now offer the possibility of career progression based on the principle of ongoing training (an in-house training course, which all within the stream will have to undergo). Furthermore, a course is being designed to meet the interest of those who currently do not have the relevant qualification and, thus, they will be able to attend and make themselves eligible to apply for Scale 12.

The agreement will effectively translate into a Scale 12 progression for nursing aids, health assistants and care workers who have obtained an MQF level4 qualification.

It was prior to the discussions on the collective agreement that the public administration contacted educational institutions and the Ministry for Health to design a course specifically aimed at these workers to empower them to progress to Scale 12 instead of being entrenched in Scale 13 when such a call is issued.

The administration is committed to ensure that generally, and aware of the dynamics of the labour market, salary scales are benchmarked with appropriate level of certified qualification. This approach will ensure both transparency and consistency in the award of salaries while at the same time being sensitive to labour market trends.

Readers will definitely appreciate that one is dealing with a scenario, which is intricately involved with the vulnerability of patients. The agreement actually addresses both the motivational needs of employees while at the same time ensuring that the service delivery to patients is of a certified quality, given the new training opportunities to the caring stream (both in-house and through recognised educational institution) that are being promoted thanks to this agreement.

The agreement has also reorganised the different grades performing caring duties into a homogenous stream based on the principle of equal pay for work of equal values.

It is also a first since it brings together an array of positions, created over the years, that were blocked from progressing to higher scales. The agreement effectively will translate in the majority of the carers actually gaining a salary scale (and increasing their take-home pay).

All sensible stakeholders, including the UĦM Voice of the Workers, will appreciate the fact that, now, the issue of early retirement is not in the interest of sustainability, both of the available resources and because of the financial implications.

Negotiations for the conclusion of the collective agreement had been ongoing for many months and had reached a point where the public administration felt that dragging one’s feet was not conducive for the sake of the carer stream. The correspondent, and readers, can rest assured that both unions were actively engaged during the negotiations.

As an important aside, one has to highlight that, ultimately, the UĦM Voice of the Workers signed the agreement with a proviso while its counterpart, the General Workers’ Union, signed the agreement and informed its members about it without any reported issues from their end.

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