The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Updated: MUMN takes legal action to protect representation on physiotherapists

Albert Galea Tuesday, 13 August 2019, 10:35 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses has filed a judicial protest in court in order to protect its sole representation of physiotherapists in government duty and to protect the right of association of these physiotherapists.

The protest was filed against the Prime Minister, as the government is the employer of the some 200 physiotherapists, of whom 170 are MUMN members.

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In a press conference outside the law courts, the MUMN’s lawyer Chris Cilia explained that while the MUMN had been granted sole recognition of the physiotherapists, the UHM – Voice of the Workers was now trying to take this over from them by claiming representation of the allied health practitioners, a cap which the physiotherapy falls under.

In September 2016, the MUMN was granted sole recognition of the physiotherapy profession due to the fact that the absolute majority – 170 out of around 200 – of the physiotherapists are members with the MUMN.

The UHM – Voice of the Workers can only take that sole recognition if they can prove that the majority of the physiotherapists are members with their union – which is not the case, Cilia said.

Therefore, a judicial protest is being filed against the government – as the health professionals’ employer – for them to desist from recognising the UHM – Voice of the Workers, something which is being done “with respect and homage to the fundamental rights of the physiotherapists to choose to be associated with any Union which they feel represents them most”, Cilia explained.

The judicial protest reads that while the MUMN was given sole recognition of the physiotherapists who work with the Health Department, the UHM has now formally requested to be granted sole recognition of the allied health practitioners group.

The physiotherapy profession is one of ten which falls under the cap of the allied health practitioners, which is a group which has one sectoral agreement to fit all of it.  Cilia described this move as trying to gain recognition of the physiotherapy profession by “going through the window instead of the door”.

It reads that only due to the fact that the MUMN has been granted sole recognition of the physiotherapists, the UHM can only be given that sole recognition of the profession if they have the majority of physiotherapists as their members, not if they have the majority of allied health practitioners as their members.

They said that these physiotherapists should not be denied their right to associate with a union of their choice just because other allied health practitioners who are not physiotherapists are members of other trade unions.

Since the MUMN was granted sole recognition for physiotherapists, a collective agreement just for that profession has been in the works, with MUMN President Paul Pace saying that it is on the verge of completion.

The UHM’s actions however, Pace said, have meant that work on this collective agreement has ground to a halt, to the detriment of the physiotherapists themselves.

The protest calls on the government to desist from contemplating requests from other unions, including the UHM, for the attainment of the sole recognition of physiotherapists unless this request is based on the fact that the said union has the absolute majority of physiotherapists in its membership base.

Pace noted that the government can choose to classify physiotherapists as their own respective profession, and not as an allied health practitioner, leaving the other nine professions to be represented by the UHM, which MUMN has no problem with.

Pace said that further action after the judicial protest cannot be excluded.

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