The Malta Independent 15 August 2018, Wednesday

'Good progress' made in third MAM-ministry meeting, but industrial action still on the cards

Julian Bonnici Monday, 12 February 2018, 16:48 Last update: about 7 months ago

A third meeting held between the Medical Association of Malta and the government was described as positive by both  the doctors’ association and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, but the possibility of industrial action later on this week remains on the card, MAM said.

The association and the government have been at loggerheads ever since Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) announced that it would be selling its 30-year concession to American company Steward Healthcare, after just 21 months, over what is believed to be serious mounting financial pressure.

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MAM also insists that the government has breached the collective agreement, which was signed last May, because it was not informed or consulted six weeks prior to the transfer of the concession - a clause which General Secretary Martin Balzan told INDEPTH that MAM had fought hard for after the Karin Grech, St Luke's and the Gozo hospitals were "sold behind [their] back."

The union called a first strike last Tuesday, which it described as a success.

Speaking after Monday’s meeting, MAM General Secretary Martin Balzan “constructive” talks had been held, and both sides “continue to agree on certain principles.”

He was reluctant to divulge details of the meeting due to the sensitivity surrounding the negotiations. Another meeting will take place on Wednesday.

Balzan said the union will wait until after Wednesday’s meeting before deciding on the industrial action planned for Thursday and Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne also said “good progress” had been made in Monday’s meeting,

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Fearne said the ministry had listened to the union’s proposals and made some counter proposals. “Good progress” was made in the two-hour meeting, the deputy prime minister said. “This does not mean that we are there. Some pending issues remain but the position overall is better than what it was last week.”

He said both sides had agreed to meet on Wednesday, allowing for some time to study each other’s proposals. Fearne said he was hopeful that agreement would be reached. 

 

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