UHM to meet Social Policy Minister on FSWS employees
UHM Voice of the Workers CEO Josef Vella will be meeting Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon to discuss the future of 400 FSWS employees who recently discovered they had missing social security contributions to the tune of €10 million.
Speaking to Voice of the Workers Weekly Vella insisted that the union will only consider the case closed when the employees’ records are updated and no longer show missing payments. Moreover, he an explanation is due on where the missing €10 million have gone.
“Now that the ministry has announced the launch of an inquiry I hope it will be followed by action, as unfortunately there have been many instances whereby investigations seem to have been lost in oblivion. A case in point is the investigation which UHM had requested by the NAO into the hospitals deal which was not followed up despite the damning conclusions. In the case of the FSWS employees we will not be satisfied by an apology or a political pledge,” Vella remarked.
The case which was revealed by this portal a few weeks ago happened between 2000 and 2007 under the watch of the then CEO Joe Gerada who is nowadays Chairman of the foundation as well as a consultant to the same ministry. Though when the story broke the ministry declined to comment when asked if Gerada’s position was tenable, MaltaToday has reported that the FSWS Chairman “suspended himself from his duties”. The newspaper also reported that the ministry had appointed retired Judge Antonio Mizzi to lead an inquiry into the matter. However, the identity of the other members of the inquiry board was not divulged. As for the course of action to be taken, the ministry said a decision on whether to refer the case to the police would be taken on the strength of the findings.
The case came to light when FSWS employees reaching retirement age enquired on their pension, only to be given the shocking news that they did not qualify for the amount which they were supposed to be entitled. Furthermore, they might miss out on the sickness benefit payment.
Prior to publishing the story, Voice of the Workers Weekly had sought Mr Gerada’s comments but he was not forthcoming. He broke the silence a couple of days later in an email to the FSWS board members in which he claimed he had also been a ‘victim’. However, his reply stoked further controversy as it transpired that he rectified his personal situation upon reaching retirement age, but failed to flag the matter to higher authorities. Hence the matter remained under wraps. Though he offered no explanation so far, Gerada told the board members that he believed the missing NI contributions were due to some mistake by a payroll clerk.
Meanwhile, despite the assurances given by the Social Policy Ministry and the FSWS that none of the affected employees would suffer deductions in their pensions, by the time of writing their missing contributions had not been credited. This is why UHM Voice of the Workers, which is representing these employees, will be meeting Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon in the coming days.