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'Despicable' industrial action hits people with disabilities

Government: Directives are 'excessive and disproportionate'

Updated Monday 5.52pm with UHM reaction  - Despicable industrial action at Aġenzija Sapport is greatly affecting the quality of life and the basic needs of people with disabilities, the National Parents Society for Persons With Disability said on Monday.

The industrial action was ordered by the UHM on Saturday after no agreement was reached in negotiations on the new collective agreement. The union told care workers, social workers and occupational therapists not to communicate with clients, refrain from compiling reports, and not attend meetings. The workers were also ordered not to attend appointments with clients.

The society said the cohort of persons with disabilities who are being targeted are persons who frequent the day centres, who have multiple disabilities and intellectual impairments that hinder them from ever seeking employment; and persons with disabilities in residential homes who will have to miss out on important long-awaited appointments. They are also not being provided with home‐made food.

The actions have also hit persons who receive community services, such as those helped in their personal hygiene, feeding and outings.

Moreover, on Monday morning many users attending day centres were left waiting for the transport to no avail, and without any information.  

The society said it condemned this sort of directives, taken by people who do not understand the consequences of their decisions and called for an immediate solution.  

In a statement issued shortly after that by the society, the Secretariat for care of the elderly and people with disabilities said the UHM's directives were excessive and disproportionate, especially since those involved had already been given generous raises in their basic pay and allowances. 

It said the UĦM was insisting that a group of 12 people working on the basis of their experience deserved to be at a higher grade. The secretariat feared, however, that accepting this could spark issues among other workers, particularly those who held qualifications.

A compromise offered by the secretariat had been turned down by the union.  

The secretariat said some 480 persons with disability were affected by the industrial action. 

It called for common sense to prevail. 

But the UHM in a reply said that contrary to the impression given by the secretariat, the directives were issued because there was disagreement on any points. 

Furthermore, the union had not received the requested documents with amendments so that it could be presented to its members. 

The union said it understood and sympathised with clients of its members and it was calling on Parliamentary Secretary Anthony  Agius Decelis to intervene and stop foot-dragging. 

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