Servizzi Ewropej f’Malta (SEM) successfully applied for Norway Grants to implement a project aimed at improving social dialogue in Malta. The funds were used to conduct a comparative study on the Norwegian and Maltese models of social dialogue, resulting in recommendations that serve to pave the way for a more effective social dialogue in Malta.

The conclusions and recommendations were presented to the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Carmelo Abela, also responsible for social dialogue, during a business breakfast for local stakeholders of social dialogue, held on December 2, 2021.

SEM has embarked on the project because it is one of the government entities in Malta that has as one of its main functions the promotion of social dialogue locally. This is done through the dissemination of EU-related information to stakeholders (social partners, civil society organisations, public and private entities and the public) on EU proposals for policy and legislation. Such proposals will eventually become part of the national legislation as an EU Member State. 

SEM also strives to involve stakeholders in the EU’s decision-making processes by seeking feedback on EU policy and legislative proposals so that government, through its ministries, will be in a better position to formulate its position on such dossiers.

The project consisted of an online meeting of three hours with Norwegian social partners to acquire first-hand information on the Norwegian model of tripartite dialogue and participate in the discussions to share knowledge and experiences on the topic and to compare and contrast the two models. This meeting was held in August 2021. Employees of SEM, the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, Maltese members of the European Economic and Social Committee and the consultant reponsible for drafting the comparative study (MISCO International), were present for this meeting. 

Following the online meeting, the consultant compiled a report about social dialogue in both Malta and Norway, which consisted of: desk research on the Norwegian and Maltese models of social dialogue; one-to-one interviews with the nine Constituted Bodies represented in the MCESD to anaylse how social dialogue may be improved in Malta; conclusions and recommendations on how social dialogue can be improved in Malta. 

The comparative analysis of the Maltese and Norwegian systems of social dialogue was based on two important considerations, firstly that the latter has evolved over a hundred years, while the Maltese one has evolved over a much shorter period – thirty years. Secondly, the Norwegian model was built primarily by employees’ and employers’ representatives with government supporting it, while the Maltese model was instigated by the government, and trade unions and employer organisations supported the initiative taken by government.

These two considerations explain why in Norway, social dialogue is based on engagement between the social partners, while in Malta, social dialogue is based more on information sharing and needs to make the transition to being based on engagement.

Another important distinction is that social dialogue in Malta is broader in its remit than it is in Norway. In Norway, social dialogue is very much focused on labour market issues from a very broad perspective and on how the economy is impacting such issues. In Malta, the agenda of social dialogue covers social aspects in addition to economic aspects. There is even the representation of civil society in the most important forum of social dialogue in Malta. On the other hand, although civil society organisations in Norway are strong, they are not part of the process of social dialogue, as is the case in Malta.

Social dialogue is a catalyst of change and is a most important platform to help in the process of transition not just of the world of work, but also of society in general. Undoubtedly, both models, although different, have the same vision – working together towards a shared future.

Whichever model a country adopts, all players in social dialogue need to ensure that the model remains relevant in society in the future, as much as the present. Account needs to be taken of economic, social, technological, environmental and legislative developments. 

Social dialogue in Malta will become more effective if it is more results-oriented and focuses on outcomes. The process of social dialogue needs to move from a model based on information sharing to one which is based on engagement.

The project report can be found here. You can contact SEM on or 2200 3300. 

Project supported by Norway through the Norway Grants 2014-2021, in the frame of the Programme ‘Social Dialogue - Decent Work’.

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