The success of the EU’s objectives should be measured at grassroot level by gauging whether the objectives set are being reached rather than on the strength of the plans and directives being drafted.

UHM Voice of the Workers CEO Josef Vella made this appeal during a debate organized by Servizzi Ewropej Malta (SEM) at the Esplora complex in Kalkara as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The debate focused on the future of employment in the EU and featured representatives from social partners as well as the Minister for Social Dialogue Carmelo Abela and Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi. The debate touched on issues like the workplace digitalization, the changes brought about by the pandemic, the right to disconnect and remote working.

In his address the UHM CEO noted that there had been instances whereby ambitious plans and targets set by the EU have not trickled down to all strata of society. “This is why success should not be gauged on the plans themselves but on whether the targets are being reached.”

Moreover, Vella warned that the EU must not focus only on the challenges within but keep an eye on the global situation as this poses serious threats. “The EU as a bloc has to establish how it is going to safeguard itself from other continents. While we are debating how to raise thresholds, be it green jobs, digitalization and employment conditions, the respective levels in continents competing with the EU are lower. If the EU will not take measures and if need be, put barriers when it comes to the importation of certain products, we might reach as stage whereby this situation would pose a threat to the EU’s own internal plans,” the UHM CEO remarked.   

The warning was sounded in the wake of concerns that the EU is increasingly becoming reliant on external suppliers and blocs, to the point that this could seriously threaten its leverage as a global economic and financial player.  

Asked on the issue of productivity in the context of remote working, the UHM CEO caution against what he described as “false-measures of productivity” whereby the employee’s performance is gauged only on the amount of time spent on the computer or at the desk.

“I hope that the transition to remote working will not be a step backwards in the sense that productivity will be measured in terms of how long the employee takes to move the mouse, just because he or she are not working at the office,” Vella said.

The ultimate benchmark should be whether the employee is reaching the set targets or not regardless of their place of work. However, the UHM CEO acknowledged that certain jobs still must rely on face-to-face communication with the clients such as investigations.

Furthermore, not all clients are tech savvy and able to use online technologies for certain investigations. Psychological services are based on specific skills such as empathy which skills may be better communicated through face-to-face communication.