One does not have to be in a trade union to hear of abuses in various companies in Malta and Gozo. Various situations we hear about make us wonder if we are under foreign rule. Why do so many companies find it so difficult to strike a fair balance between workers and employers? There is also a difference between workers who are in a union and those who are not. They seem to forget that they need each other!
From our experience over the years in various assignments in each sector of the Maltese economy, we have learnt that each sector has its own needs. Each sector brings different challenges and the same goes for the support and protection that workers need. In addition, our work brings together several companies from the same sector but with different processes and procedures. This is a very positive thing, because diversity is necessary for our country’s society and economy. There is just one thing we must not forget, and that is that respect for workers is essential in every situation and in every workplace.
Many companies place great emphasis on the obligations of workers towards their work, but do not mention what obligations they have towards their workers. Many industries here in Malta cannot breathe because there is a lot of discrimination between workers. Discrimination not only between Maltese and foreign workers but also between men and women, workers on fixed term and permanent contracts, local workers and temporary workers. Unfortunately, management prefers a sad worker to leave instead of trying to find a solution together. Sometimes management forgets that it takes a lot of financial and human resources to find a new employee to train and promote according to the company culture.
Sometimes the world of work is more or less selfish. Sometimes management expects workers to be motivated, do their jobs, and go home without a hitch. Sometimes we forget that we live in a world that is a bit more complex. People have thinking minds, and doubts come to everyone from time to time.
Employers need to maintain active communication with all employees. Meetings with employees should not just happen when something bad has happened or a new task is coming up. They should happen frequently so that everyone involved knows exactly what is going on. For the employer, it’s good to know what challenges employees are facing, perhaps even personal challenges that the company can offer further support with. A company can only move forward if it has a team of motivated employees who know exactly what is expected of them and feel respected. There is nothing wrong with checking to see if our employees need help outside of the workplace, after all, an employee cannot do their job well if they have personal issues that prevent them from doing their best at work.
Several industries need more improvement than other industries. Let’s mention the workers in the gig economy. Everyone sees these food delivery workers happening everywhere. They work long hours, running from restaurant to restaurant. They have no working conditions and many of them work self-employed even though they cannot by law. The least an employer can do is show them some respect for all the work they are doing. These workers have a family and when others have fun they will be at work. Many workers who are not legally registered, have neither leave nor sick leave, end up not being paid when they cannot afford so many long working days and are not entitled to a pension because they have never paid a stamp duty.
This sector and others like it need to be regulated immediately. We as GWU do a lot of work on behalf of discriminated workers who are not valued and whose rights are not respected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to be in the union. Unity is strength! The more workers from the same company are in the union, the better the conditions are, because once half of the workers (50% +1) are members of the GWU, the GWU is recognized and starts to actively meet with management. Collective bargaining begins to improve structures, conditions, and wages.
The GWU encourage companies to motivate their employees to maintain active communication and clearly state what they expect from them. It is also important that workers are recognized for the work they do and the results they achieve. When a worker feels safe and respected, they work harder for their heart and feel more accountable to do their job well. Ultimately, the worker must work to earn a living, not to avoid doing a bad job.