Fuel station owners are meeting on Monday to discuss the details of action they plan to take after the government rejected their proposal for a higher profit margin needed so they can upgrade their facilities.

The government on Thursday said it had made an alternative proposal. No details of the proposals were given by either side. 

Monday's meeting comes after the ultimatum for an agreement, given to the government by the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (GRTU) expired with no deal reached.

CEO Abigail Mamo said the situation had reached the point where fuel station owners who are members of the GRTU would be meeting to discuss the details of action they want to take.

Asked if a strike was on the cards, she replied all options were being considered, pointing out it was up to the fuel station owners to decide what measure to take.

“It might not be a total strike but what is certain is that there will be a disruption in service,” she said.

It might not be a total strike

Owners of fuel stations are at loggerheads with the government over a plan whereby all fuel stations would have to upgrade their facilities by next year, in line with requirements set by the Environment and Resources Authority and the Regulator for Energy and Water Services.

Discussions between the chamber that represents the petrol station owners and the government have been dragging on since 2014, and operators are expected to refurbish fuel stations by next year – an expense that could reach €500,000 each.

The owners are arguing that the government could still meet their demands without having to increase the price of petrol and diesel.

The government said that in 2011, the Malta Resources Authority had granted the fuel station owners an increase in profit.

The latest demands would result in higher prices at the pumps, according to the government.

The owners hit back saying the 2011 increase was eaten up by other costs. The GRTU said it had submitted proposals on how to accommodate the request without burdening consumers.