For the past two weeks, staff at the Foundation for Social Services (FSWS), including social workers who are members of the Maltese Association of Social Workers (MASW), have been monitoring labour disputes after the slow pace of discussions on the new collective agreement. The ministry explained that the collective agreement had improved the working conditions of workers, while their wages and allowances would reflect their work at each rank within the FSWS. “However, we are convinced that we can achieve a win-win solution for us as employers and for our employees. Let me clarify things. During the negotiations, I have already stated that our objective as a management is to ensure that the new collective agreement addresses the fundamental issues of recruitment and engagement. Therefore, each deal must meet these two basic requirements so that my management team and I can be satisfied with the result. On 19 September, after hearing the witnesses, the Disciplinary Committee concluded that Mr. Rola had “committed by his actions a violation of the FSWS and Agency data protection guidelines established in the collective agreement and the dissemination of personal data that the Agency retains without the required consent.” The Chamber also stated that the case for the foundation was a serious offence and merits removal. However, the Disciplinary Board noted the actions taken by Mr. Rola, driven by his zeal to attract as many nurses as possible to the activities of both institutions. After reviewing the case by the Board of Appeal, it concluded that “since this was Mr.
Rola`s first fault, disciplinary action should be limited to issuing a letter of formal notice” and not to his removal as team leader, as the Disciplinary Board had recommended that he do so against what is provided in the collective agreement. The appeals body also proposed that the Foundation present a manual on data protection procedures, which should be explained and provided to each staff member. It also recommended signing a Memorandum of Understanding with third parties sharing data with the Foundation. Nine days after the Board of Inquiry forwarded his report to the Foundation, Mr. Rola received a letter signed by Mr. Grixti indicating that a disciplinary council had been appointed and that he was being summoned to appear before him. In accordance with the framework agreement between FSWS and the UHM, the board of directors of the group`s human resources manager, Anthony Apap, and two other members of the Foundation were led. The same letter that this newspaper saw also indicated that Mr.
Rola could be supported by a union representative or another person of his choice. At the hearings on 6 September, Mr. Rola was assisted by lawyer Robert Abela. Alfred Grixti, Director General of FSWS, which manages social assistance groups such as Appoé and Sedqa, told Lovin Malta that “the whole issue is to renew the collective agreement, which clearly has a financial aspect and therefore needs to be reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Finance.” The Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity said it was satisfied with the agreement between the government, FSWS and the U-Union on the collective agreement and called it historic. For the first time after the interviews, a clear and unique career will be established for professionals within the Foundation, while their skills and experience will be recognized by responsible and reasonable financial incentives.