The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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MEA consultant says recent scandals ‘rocked country, shattered trust’

Thursday, 13 June 2024, 13:45 Last update: about 2 months ago

There is a strong sense among the Maltese social partners and civil society about the need to address a worsening deficit in the rule of law, MEA consultant and Employers' Delegate – Malta Joe Farrugia said Wednesday.

In general, Malta has experienced positive macro-economic performance over the past years, but it is difficult for such results to be sustained unless there are supporting strategies that factor in social and environmental requirements, together with good governance, he said when addressing the International Labour Organisation 112th session on Wednesday.

Therefore, any expectations for an improved social contract would be meaningless without a commitment to effective governance in all its aspects, trust in government, and a focus on quantifiable outcomes, he said.

It is acknowledged, he added, that the private sector has to be subject to governance and compliance mechanisms, and reasonable labour market regulation is necessary to safeguard the rights of employees. However, governments have to lead by example.

“In Malta, the recent scandals concerning the public health sector, social security benefit fraud, and other major infrastructural projects, with the alleged involvement of senior politicians and persons in high office, have rocked the country and shattered trust in our major institutions. This weakens the concept of a social contract and undermines the core values that place entrepreneurship, hard work and merit as cornerstones of personal and business success,” Farrugia said.

Farrugia outlined the benefits of social contracts in that they promote the common good over self-interest through social cohesion, good governance, and equal opportunity, among other aspects. He added that the full reach of the implications of a social contract might lie outside the remit of the ILO, with its focus on the world of work, however, he pointed out that there can be “no question that the social partners, through the ILO, play a key role in promoting the ideals and achieving the aims of social contracts”. He added that they must be active participants in their updating as a reflection of the ever-changing world of work.

Farrugia said that whilst, within the ILO, it is generally accepted that the tripartite model rests on three pillars, the pillar on which employers stand tends to be shorter in terms of recognition than those of government and workers. He went on to say that this creates an imbalance in the social dialogue process, and through it, the stability of a social contract.

Farrugia said that good work “does not just happen”, rather, it is the result of enterprise and initiatives undertaken by the private sector. He said that through sustainable enterprise and job creation, people “can aspire to a better life and to fulfil their potential as productive persons”

Honing in on the private sector, Farrugia said that it is a major source of innovation and technological change which brings about upskilling and value added, leading to better conditions of employment and it is acknowledged that it has to be subject to governance and compliance mechanisms, and reasonable labour market regulation is necessary to safeguard the rights of employees. That said, “Governments have to lead by example”, Farrugia pointed out.

 

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