Earlier today, the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) held a digital meeting with the social partners and representatives from civil society together with the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela and the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri. During this meeting, the current situation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impact on businesses were discussed.
Minister responsible for social dialogue Carmelo Abela, noted that such a meeting emphasises the fact that government considers social dialogue as highly important. Throughout this pandemic, discussions have led to tangible results. Minister Abela added that government has honoured the important agreement reached between the employees’ representatives and employers. He went on to highlight his expectations that – in line with governments efforts to use its resources to safeguard jobs – employers should also strive to do their utmost to achieve this purpose. He also reminded those present that if companies find themselves in difficulty or in case there is the need for changes in work conditions, companies need to first hold discussions with the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations.
Minister Abela expressed his gratitude towards the majority of the companies that are doing their utmost to safeguard the jobs of their employees. He added that abuse by employers will not be tolerated. The agreement with the social partners within MCESD needs to be adhered to throughout this period too and all should make every effort to follow its content. Whilst retaining a sense of responsibility, we should continue to work in favour of this genuine collaboration leading to further collaborations. We are facing this crisis together and together we will manage to get through it. “As a country, we have managed to achieve good results through the input of government, social partners and the civil society”, said the minister. He then added that if we are wise and careful, we will be in a position to build on the good results we have achieved so far. He extended his open invitation for discussion with representatives from social partners and the civil society. “As a government we are ready to listen, and we shall continue to do so. We shall analyse all comments and feedback so that we may address issues in a more effective way”, said Minister Abela.
Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri said that this is a challenging period for our country however, the most fundamental aspect is the unity amongst key stakeholders to pull the same rope. Minister Schembri noted that from the very start, the government put forward significant economic support measures aimed at businesses and self-employed to safeguard jobs resulting in Malta being amongst the first states to start issuing disbursements. He remarked that discussions pursued with key stakeholders yielded quite positive results enabling the government to present to the public even better support measures, for three consecutive times.
Minister Schembri said that throughout the transitional period that is the shift from an exit strategy to a restart strategy in order to re-stimulate the economy, the government is going to keep helping businesses thus it is crucial for everyone to work hand in hand during which the government will stand shoulder to shoulder.
The process to re-stimulate the economy will be a gradual one and the economic support measures are not going to be stopped abruptly when businesses reopen but shall remain in place till businesses recover substantially. Amid all this, it is key to keep on working closely together. I thank all stakeholders for their cooperation and input. It is everyone’s merit that we are braving the storm together and bearing positive results, said Minister Schembri.
Through their interventions, the social partners have presented their comments, concerns and issues they are currently facing in relation to the implementation of the third financial aid package announced by government. Minister Abela and Minister Schembri both remarked that they had noted the comments. They encouraged more collaborative work in order to be able to find possible solutions, adding that government is open for discussion to be able to receive feedback, analyse and take the necessary action.