This time of the year workplaces are characterised by social events whereby employees meet to celebrate the end of another year and have fun together. Furthermore, this is a good opportunity for employers to reward their hard-working staff members for the sterling job they carry out throughout the year.

UHM Voice of the Workers is no exception and strives to embrace such initiatives bother for its staff as well as beyond. As a matter of fact following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 restrictions union delegates and representatives were invited for a Christmas party at the Catholic Institute. This was done in recognition to their efforts to keep the union alive and kicking at their respective workplaces, as they are the ears on the ground.  Were it not for its thousands of members and volunteers, UHM would not be able to bring about change and better conditions for employment.

Thanks to this collective effort 2022 saw UHM inaugurate its new premises while not losing its focus on its core operations. The dying embers of this year were characterised by a historic first collective agreement for the legal professionals at the Attorney General’s Office and a new collective agreement for the hundreds of employees at Malta Freeport which is a crucial player in Malta economy.

Collective bargaining is an important tool to safeguard and improve working conditions. Contrary to the impression given in certain quarters which try to portray unions as being only interested in sectorial issues, unions may also result in benefits for non-members as the latter may still benefit from better wages and the reduction of income inequalities. Conversely, where unions and collective bargaining is weak, employers and their allies are more successful at pushing through policies and legislation which may not be in the interest of workers.

This is why the implementation of the Adequate Minimum Wage Directive will be crucial as one its aims is to boost social dialogue especially in those countries where trade union density (membership) is not as high. This states that one of the goals is to increase the number of workers covered by collective bargaining on wage setting. To reach that objective, countries should promote the capacity of social partners to engage in collective bargaining. Member states with a collective bargaining coverage below 80% should establish an action plan to promote collective bargaining. The action plan should set out a clear timeline and specific measures to progressively increase the rate of collective bargaining coverage. In this respect UHM looks forward to 2023 to start working in this ambitious and necessary plan. However, this will nonetheless depend on our dedicated staff, representatives and members.