Persistent mistakes resulting in hefty deductions in the salaries of OZO Group employees at Wasteserv have prompted UĦM Voice of the Workers to request the intervention of the Director of Employment.

The latest twist in this saga which has been dragging on for months happened a few days ago when OZO employees at Wasterserv – a contractor appointment by the State agency to carry out some of its core duties – were notified in advance that their forthcoming salary for March would be incorrect. It transpired that “difficulties in collecting all the possible data to process in time for salaries” were being blamed by Ozo for mistakes in overtime, leave calculation and salaries. Furthermore, employees would have to wait till the end of April to received what was due.

UHM flagged the matter to the Director of Employment in the wake of the fact that this was not an isolated incident, but an occurrence which has been happening for over a year despite pledges that it would be resolved once and for all.

“Employees should not be punished for these mistakes which are the result of this chaos caused by disorganisation and lack of coordination between the company and Wasteserv,” OZO employees told Voice of the Workers Weekly.

Echoing concerns raised by its members, UĦM pointed out that these shortcomings affecting the take-home pay meant that in some cases workers were landing in hot water with the banks over delays in mortgage payments and with utility company Arms over unpaid water and electricity bills.

Furthermore, the situation is going from bad to worse as this time around the company will take an entire month to make amends for its mistakes, whereas before the situation was being rectified within days.

Last December this portal had reported that when the current contractor Ozo Services took over in January 2020, it promised to address the problem. A dedicated group was set up and measures were taken including the installation of staff attendance equipment to improve administrative aspects. However, mistakes persisted and the complaints which UĦM receives at the end of every month are testament to this.

Though Wasteserv employs hundreds, only a few dozen are on its books. The rest, ranging from workers with basics skills to professionals, are employed with the contractor through an outsourcing contract. This is a source of lack of coordination and confusion between the two entities.

The issue has become endemic to the point that in the last collective agreement of 2018, which was negotiated by the officially recognized UĦM Voice of the Workers, a clause had been added specifically for such cases. Through this agreement, mistakes in the employees’ wages must be addressed within three weeks. The timeframe prevents a scenario whereby employees would get the amount due in the following salary, as this would create confusion on what was due to them during that month.

Now that the matter has been referred to the Director of Employment, UĦM expects prompt action to resolve the issue. The union hopes that this is not a ploy like that being used in the health sector whereby government refuses to engage in social dialogue, to trigger industrial action, in order to file an injunction against in attempt to muzzle the workers from fighting for their rights.