Public health service employees within a specialized section for children were transferred elsewhere after Government refused to accept the request of UĦM Voice of the Workers for the premises to be certified as meeting health and safety requirements.  

The case involves workers at the Child Development Assessment Unit which is located at St. Luke’s Hospital though it falls under the management of Mater Dei Hospital. At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, the union had called for a risk assessment to determine whether the premises satisfied the standards of the mitigation measures, in the interest the children and the employees. Subsequently, management decided to stop using the premises and resort to telehealth by conducting online sessions. Though this had its limitations the measure was supposed to be temporary until the situation at the CDAU would be rectified.

In June 2020, workers were ordered by Mater Dei Hospital to return to St. Luke’s. However, UĦM requested a risk assessment of the site as the pandemic was far from over. A request was also made for an investigation into the structural integrity of the building itself.

To date, the result of this risk assessment has never reached the union. Sources told Voice of the Workers Weekly that the risk assessment was completed in December and concluded that the premises did not reach the required level in terms of health and safety. Furthermore, an architect’s report into the building’s structural integrity, does not seem to have been submitted.

Despite these serious shortcomings, management recently insisted that employees should nonetheless return to work from these premises. This led to the UĦM issuing a directive for workers to continue with telehealth while remaining open to finding an alternative site which posed no risk.

A few days ago, UĦM was alerted that workers were ordered to cancel all appointments as they would be transferred to Mater Dei and given other duties completely unrelated to the CDAU. While no explanation was given, sources said this was part of a plan whereby new occupational therapists would be employed to replace those currently working at the CDAU.

“Such behaviour is unacceptable, and this is why the union has issued a directive ordering that existing employees keep delivering this service and consequently decline from reporting to work at Mater Dei until different premises are found,” UĦM assistant director Gian Paul Gauci said.

“Management cannot request employees to report for work in premises which are not certified as being safe,” he added.

Such conduct from the government is abusive as rather than resolve the issue, it is seeking to recruit new employees knowing that during their probation period they would be very reluctant to flag the situation fearing the sack.  UĦM is warning it will take any action necessary while calling for a solution in the interest of the children needing this service.