Population: 397 000
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 - 87 - 98 - 100 - 105 - 111 - 138 - 182
There was little change in Malta where the law still allows for compulsory arbitration in the event of industrial disputes.
Trade union rights in law
The law recognises the right to form and join trade unions. Workers may bargain collectively and employers may not take action against workers for their trade union activities.
Compulsory arbitration: Under the terms of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act, the government can impose compulsory arbitration in the event of an industrial dispute, leading to a final award binding on all parties. The ILO has been pointing out for more than 20 years that this is not in line with Convention 87, which states that such recourse should be restricted to public servants exercising authority in the name of the state, essential services, situations of acute national crisis, or cases where both parties request arbitration.
Public Holidays Act infringes collective bargaining rights: In 2005, the Maltese government amended the Public Holidays Act to remove the right to recover public holidays falling on weekends. Provisions in existing collective agreements on special arrangements for recovering public holidays falling on a weekend became invalid, and future negotiations on the issue were effectively precluded. The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association concluded that these changes to the Act violated the principles of free collective bargaining and has requested the government to amend section 6 of the Act accordingly.
Trade union rights in practice
Arbitration: The government insists that it only imposes arbitration after all other avenues have been exhausted, and that in practice it rarely has to do so.
Union assets frozen following strike action: On several occasions government authorities have sought court orders to freeze trade union assets, claiming damages incurred further to industrial action. One such example was the freezing of union assets in 2005 following a dispute between the GWU and the government-owned Malta Shipyards.
Anti-union private sector: The private sector remains anti-union, particularly the micro enterprises employing very few workers.