SME Chamber

MCESD is not a forum for separatists

 On the issue of who is represented at MCESD, Vince Farrugia, GRTU's Director General comments as follows:

MCESD represents the major organizations representing employees and workers, the third party is the government represented at MCESD with the top civil servants. Four employer organizations together represent employers, while four trade union group represent workers.


Up to 1976, GRTU was already identified at law as the organization representing the self-employed and owner managed enterprises. Technically most of those represented by GRTU are employers, but GRTU's representation has traditionally been for their interest as a particular and important sector within the Maltese economy. When in 1976 the law was changed the special registration window for GRTU as Union representing the self-employed, autonomous workers and owners of micro and small enterprises was, for purely Labour Party political strategy, removed from the Industrial Relations Act (IRA).

Since then GRTU could not register as a union since the definition of Union in the IRA was clearly reserved for organizations representing wage and salary earners, and non profit earners like the self-employed. Indeed GRTU was not even allowed to call itself General Retailers and Traders Union, GRTU kept using the name GRTU effectively in defiance of this political imposition. The only option left for GRTU, which is still today the only option, is that of registering as an employers association. The Labour Law is very clear: You register as an employer association or as a worker trade union. The Malta Employer's Association (MEA), the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) and GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs are registered as employers associations. The Chamber of Commerce (COC) (and also the now merged FOI) does not appear as a registered employer association.

GRTU however in spite of its nomenclature as employers association has never really belonged to an "Employer's Block" within MCESD. GRTU then steadfastly stood out as the national organization representing the particular sector it represents. Indeed as many occasions at MCESD, GRTU has sided with the trade unions and on many other occasions it has sided also with the employers, and GRTU has been the most vociferous in favour of "consensus at MCESD, resisting all attempts to introduce a majority voting system. The trade unions cannot ever claim that GRTU had attempted at any time to improve itself as a part of any imagined "unti-trade union block". The issue of numbers at MCESD therefore does not exist.

The point Paul Abela raised at MCESD when the request by the group of trade unions called Forum to join MCESD was raised is very clear. John Bencini was an active member of MCESD as long as he was an officer of CMTU. When he resigned and his union left CMTU, he joined the newly formed combination of trade unions called Forum. These trade unions are most of them brake-aways from CMTU. Technically, the trade union movement has produced another offspring:

"It is up to the family of trade unions to offer Forum one of their seats, if they accept jointly that the family has become bigger, UHM and CMTU have no seats to offer as they have only a single representative. GWU has a double representation and they are the major promoters of Forum. So the solution is obvious: GWU offers one of their two seats to their adopted partner but MCESD cannot every time there is a brake away from one organisation represented offer a new seat to the new separatist group. The story would then be unending. Imagine what would happen if tomorrow MHRA, GRTU and then CMTU brake up, we would have to create a new seat every time  since we took a similar decision when Bencini's union broke up from CMTU"

This was what Paul Abela stated at MCESD, Mr. John Bencini called this a personal attack. This is the same John Bencini who launched a vicious attack on Paul Abela and Vince Farrugia at St. George's square when he stood foursquare with GWU.

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