New UHM Voice of the Workers premises inaugurated
Prime Minister Robert Abela has officially inaugurated the new premises of UHM Voice of the Workers in a ceremony held on Thursday 29th September which coincided the 56th anniversary of the union.
The project which has been in the offing since 2015 has seen the transformation of the union’s headquarters in St Thomas Street in Floriana to a modern building equipped with lavish offices, classrooms, conference room and a hall with the latest audio-visual facilities including equipment for online streaming.
In his address UHM CEO Josef Vella spoke on the importance of industrial democracy while emphasizing a trade unions should strive to keep their autonomy while acting responsibly.
“This means frequenting the sitting rooms of social partners and political parties but keeping a certain distance to avoid finishing in bed together,” Vella said. The UHM CEO remarked how throughout its history the union always acted responsibly and was proactive such as the ongoing debate on the COLA mechanism. Rather than profiting from the circumstances to fuel social unrest the union came up with a solution which was shared with other unions to the point of forming a united front on this issue.
Prime Minister Robert Abela commended the union for its proactive approach on issues like the labour market which resulted in some of the union’s proposals such as the tapering of benefits being taken on board by the government. He also referred to the forthcoming budget saying that government had no intention to take any austerity measures.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna called on UHM to be the voice of vulnerable workers while engaging in genuine social dialogue. On the other hand, he said workers ought to pay the taxes and not fall in the trap of the black economy.
UHM Director Mario Sacco spoke on the crucial role which this premises played in the union’s history. Throughout the years this building was expanded through additional storeys, refurbished several times and expanded further through an adjacent wing. From a social perspective these premises witnessed various struggles which the union experienced in its mission to safeguard and improve workers rights. Moreover, this building will also serve as an educational facility from where the union delivers educational and career development courses.
Works on this ambitious project started in 2019 and comprised infrastructural works to give an entirely new layout to improve accessibility. This required demolishing parts of the building such as the staircase, tearing down walls and installing new utility and data services.
Apart from the offices for the UHM staff, the premises are equipped with a modern conference room, a multi-purpose hall and broadcasting equipment which will enable the union to boost its presence on social media. Moreover, the new headquarters have ample space to host meetings ranging from one-to-one to larger groups.
UHM was originally based in a small office in Valletta until 1989 when it moved to the present location in Floriana due to the rapid expansion in membership.