A banking union has said a decision by APS Bank to require unvaccinated employees to take a weekly PCR test is in breach of a collective agreement. 

The Malta Union of Bank Employees said that APS had imposed the measure unilaterally and in a way that unfairly penalised workers, though it stopped short of condemning the bank’s push to ensure employees are vaccinated.  

APS Bank informed its 550 workers last week that they would be required to submit proof of having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose or else get themselves tested for COVID-19 every week as of August 1.

Tests carried out during working hours would be deducted from employees’ leave, the bank said. Employees unable to get vaccinated will be exempt from the new rules. 

The bank has also noted that vaccinated employees will also be randomly selected to undergo PCR testing. 

MUBE takes issue with new rules

In a statement on Monday, MUBE said that while it “supports companies taking initiatives to avoid increase of COVID cases”, it disagreed with the way APS had imposed its new rules. 

“MUBE strongly objects to deduction from staff members' vacation leave and to any other measure that is detrimental to performing employees who strive to perform at their best during such sensitive times,” the union said. 

It said that while it favoured “strict preventative measures” to contain the virus, APS management had to be “practical and pragmatic” when managing staff and their welfare. 

The union said that it has asked the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations to intervene. 

Just over 80 per cent of adults in Malta are fully vaccinated, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

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