The case for a Trade Union Council - Victor Degiovanni

The Times - Friday, 14th December 2007




With regard to the news of the merger between the Federation of Industry and the Chamber of Commerce, Zminijietna - Voice of the Left believes that, similarly, Maltese trade unions should resolve reconcilable differences and form a Trade Union Council that works in the interest of the working class.
Trade Union Councils exist in various countries whereby trade unions discuss policies and strategies and come up with proposals in the interests of workers. Here, trade unions, though united, respect each others' identities. A good soft-ground start in Malta for the TUC might be a national health and safety programme working on all fronts, with themes ranging from stress caused by work to chemical hazards.
In Malta, trade unions are divided and this only works to the detriment of workers. With the merge of employers associations, one can only expect further pressure to deteriorate workers' conditions.
One should remember the constant opposition to an increase in the minimum wage by such organisations.
In the private sector, unionised workers frequently lack bargaining power due to the absence of solidarity by other trade unions whereas, in the public sector, the division which exists among trade unions is making it easier for the dismantling and privatisation of public services. Ultimately, this is resulting in job losses or inferior job conditions for many workers.
Moreover, due to the neo-liberal direction Malta is moving towards, the country is witnessing an increase in non-unionised workers, part-time workers, workers on contract and informal workers and, once again, this requires strong trade union action, given that much of such employment is characterised by a lack of rights and exploitative conditions of work.
It is only through solidarity and collective action that the working class can improve its situation. A Trade Union Council would therefore be a step in the right direction against the "race to the bottom" of neo-liberalism.


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