In a press release, the Malta Employers Association (MEA) stated that the court sentence which has ordered a reinstatement of two Gozo Channel employees found guilty of stealing from their employer is ridiculous and unprecedented. This decision can create a very dangerous precedent and sends a wrong message to employees in Malta and Gozo. The gravity of the recommendation by the magistrate is even more pronounced given that the employees are to be reinstated in their previous post, which includes cash handling. The Association supports the police in their efforts to appeal this error of judgement.
Whilst MEA may be right in its concerns it certainly needs to be less arrogant in its statement. The court cannot and should not be addressed in such a manner. There is a right to appeal for the Police and it is up to the Appeal to decide whether it is in agreement with the court. MEA may have its own opinion but should lead by example and refer to the Court with more respect.
The judgement certainly gives room for though and this tied with the Industrial Tribunal issues certainly call for a review of our legislation. Although MEA may be reacting logically the law does not cater for automatic dismissal of employees in certain criminal offences. In fact, many employment contracts are nowadays include such clauses as their terms and conditions of employment. Government employment contracts and those of parastatal companies , authorities and other government related entities seem not to include such clauses. Maybe the various administrations are afraid to include such clauses due to political implications and prefer shifting this responsibility to the Courts.
A new legislation has been long awaited as there are various matters in the law that are either not clear, leave room for interpretation or not addressed at all. On some of these matters there has been a call for review for a number of years such as the union representation and the way salaries may be calculated. Practices in the country are developing as the industry is changing yet the legislator have failed for more than a decade now to start addressing matters. There was a hope that with the change in Government this would be on its priority list yet regrettably it does not seem to be as to date there seems not to be a consultation process triggered. Perhaps there is behind closed doors but how can employers give their feedback if this is the case? Although there has already been a few occasions whereby consultation lacked in the implementation of legislation effecting employers.