Details of Norma Saliba's €72,000-a-year contract to run a new centre for Maltese has been revealed as seven top language organisations said on Monday they would not recognise the body.
The contract states that Saliba, who was edged out of the TVM newsroom earlier this year, can return to her former position if her contract to serve as executive director of the new Centre for the Maltese Language is terminated by the Culture Ministry.
Saliba's controversial appointment was announced on the same day that a legal notice was published setting up the centre as the organisational and operational organ of the National Council of the Maltese Language.
The council has complained that it was not consulted about the new setting and it is challenging the legality of the legal notice. Seven top Maltese language organisations said on Monday they would not recognise the new centre.
According to her three-year definite contract, Saliba has the right to fall back on her substantive employment as manager at Public Broadcasting Services if her contract is terminated by the Culture Ministry for reasons of “unsatisfactory performance”.
Times of Malta obtained a copy of Saliba’s contract through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The contract was signed by Saliba and the Culture Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Joyce Dimech.
Pay and allowances
According to the contract, Saliba will pocket a €42,000 basic salary. Over and above her salary, Saliba will also receive several allowances and bonuses, including an increment of €750 per annum.
Other allowances include €4,658 in transport allowance, a communication allowance of €1,800, a training allowance of €2,000, a project allowance of up to €6,300 and a performance bonus also up to €6,300.
Saliba's new role came weeks after she resigned as TVM head of news, three years into the job and following reports of clashes with the broadcaster’s executive chairman, Mark Sammut.
While at first, the Council’s chair Olvin Vella had welcomed Saliba’s appointment, the council shortly after filed a judicial protest to scrap her appointment, claiming that it was illegal as the Council was not consulted over plans to open the centre and did not receive a draft of the legal notice for its feedback.
Yet, chat conversations seen by Times of Malta indicate that Vella did receive a copy of the legal notice setting up the entity three days before it was published and was also aware that Saliba was to lead it.
Maltese Language Organisations support Council’s judicial protest
Seven Maltese Language associations and academic bodies on Monday came out in support of the council, stating that they will not recognise the new centre, as it was set up without the necessary preparation and without the full consultation process envisaged by the Maltese Language Act.
The associations said they could not approve the illegal legal notice and that they do not recognize the centre.
“Those who truly support the development and promotion of the Maltese language do not do so by taking the law into their own hands,” the statement read.
“They do not go against the organisations that work with integrity and in a professional manner and whose members do not seek any form of monetary compensation for their work.”
The statement was signed by L-Akkademja tal-Malti, Maltese Department of the University of Malta, Department of Maltese of Junior College, Għaqda Qarrejja tal-Provi, Inizjamed, L-Għaqda tal-Għalliema tal-Malti, L-Għaqda tal-Malti - Università.