Malta
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Union boss bails ‘historic’ deal for over 4,000 nurses and midwives

Nurses union MUMN sealed a new sectoral agreement for over 4,000 nurses and midwives, while a new agreement was clinched by ECG technicians with the Health Department.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, who presided over the signing of the agreement, said the deal was a strong testament to the government’s commitment to significantly invest in crucial sectors, healthcare being among the most important.

“Malta has a healthcare service that consistently ranks among the best. There is no doubt that the contribution of workers is essential and central to all of this. That is why we are investing in one of the leading professions. I am immensely satisfied these agreements are another fulfilled promise, providing the best conditions our nurses have ever had,” Abela said.

Abela called on prospective nurses to pick the vocation for the “love of patients”, but said that everybody expects that the sacrifices made in both study and work translated into a career that provides both satisfaction as well as a better quality of life. “This agreement aims to strengthen this profession and to make it a career where one can progress,” Abela said.

Also in attendance for the signing were deputy prime minister and health minister Chris Fearne, and active agening minister Jo Etienne Abela.

MUMN president Paul Pace described the agreement as historic. “The benefits are many. The primary beneficiaries and the most important ones are the patients recovering in various hospitals, the elderly residing in institutions, citizens visiting health centres, and mothers who enter the hospital to give birth.”

He said the agreement would motivate nurses and midwives. “Everyone is aware of the shortage of nurses worldwide. But here in Malta, we have not only recognised the problem but, more importantly, we have worked together to encourage more young people to choose this profession as their career. We have also introduced incentives to keep nurses and midwives in employment, especially those of a young age,” Pace said.

The sectoral agreement was the subject of protracted industrial action between the MUMN and the health department, with Pace demanding more benefits that could attract new graduates to the profession.

Pace is expected to face a Public Service Commission disciplinary board after a fact-finding exercise concluded that he misappropriated public funds by requesting payment for work allegedly not carried out, even while he was abroad. 

Pace later filed a judicial protest to demand an investigation into how confidential information from his personnel records ended up in the hands of Labour Party talk show host Manuel Cuschieri. Pace was the subject of an internal investigation into possible overtime abuse,  launched as a result of allegations made by Cuschieri. In April, just two days after the union suspended a series of directives issued to nurses at health centres and the Gozo General Hospital, at a time when talks between the MUMN and the Health Ministry over nurses’ working conditions had stalled, Cuschieri used his radio show to accuse Pace of having claimed several hours of overtime at Mount Carmel Hospital, when he had, in fact, been on holiday in Egypt.