News | Wednesday, 02 September 2009

Social partners in talks to bridge positions on Budget

Karl Stagno-Navarra

Social partners are reportedly holding informal meetings between themselves in a bid to reach an agreement on positions to be forwarded to government before next month’s budget.
Trade unions, employers and industrialists have admitted to have been holding talks for the past three weeks, while none expressed a desire to reveal the details of the proposals they are seeking to put to government.
This is the first time social partners seem to be working together since the collapse in talks over a proposed Social Pact in 2005.
“What is being discussed is not the Social Pact, although many points in our discussions edge closer towards a sort of pact between us,” said an informed source.
An MCESD meeting that was scheduled to have been held last Friday was postponed to another date, and talks are to continue between the social partners until another date is announced.
Tomorrow, Thursday, the Employers Association (MEA) is expected to publish a survey that was complied by its members about the impact of a €5 to €6 per week increase in salaries would have next year should the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) be implemented.
Sources close to the MEA have revealed that the results are “shocking” and added that should such an increase be imposed on employers to make good for this year’s record inflation, “then mass redundancies are expected,” particularly in the manufacturing and the tourism sectors.
Although conscious about the severe problems employers are facing at the moment, trade union representatives are adamant on their position that workers cannot be left to face inflation without any compensation, even though they agree that this year’s record inflation was government induced given the hefty increase in energy tariffs.
Statistics published this week revealed the state of play in the Maltese economy with manufacturing sales registering a drop of almost €120 million to €456.4 million, €323.8 million of which consisted of exports.
The National Statistics Office (NSO) said this was mainly due to a drop in demand in the communication, chemical, rubber, plastic, electrical, metal, medical, precision and optical sectors.
As a result, employment fell by 1,136 to 16,352 and investment by €13.3 million to €21 million.



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02 September 2009


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