Police officers are calling for a 15 per cent wage rise, arguing they work six hours over and above the standard 40-hour week within the civil service.
The formal demand is being spearheaded by the Malta Police Association, which has over 1,000 members. The union is urging officers to seek redress by filing a formal complaint to a grievances board set up in 2014.
In their complaint, the officers say they are not being treated fairly because, contrary to all other employees on the government’s books, they are being forced to work 46 hours a week but being paid for 40.
They argue that the collective agreement for the civil service makes it amply clear there should be extra payment for any additional hours worked beyond the mandatory 40-hour week.
Such conditions cannot be considered part of a sectoral deal
Furthermore, they note that in the absence of any sectoral agreement for the police, the provisions mentioned still apply.
The aggrieved officers insist that two circular letters dating to 1993 and 2012 which outline their working conditions, including the 46-hour week, make no mention that payment must be pegged to a 40-hour week.
They claim their union was never consulted over the conditions of work they are complaining about, which were “arbitrarily” established by the permanent secretaries at the finance and home affairs ministries.
Such conditions cannot be considered as being part of a sectoral agreement, the officers point out, adding they were “losing” 15 per cent of the income due to them – the six ‘extra’ hours for which they were not being paid in proportion to a 40-hour week.
In the circumstances, the officers complain that, compared to other civil servants in the same scale, their salary is, in fact, two scales lower.
They insist that the working hours issue has nothing to do with the agreement reached last year, which brought to an end the ‘overtime saga’ that had been dragging on for 25 years.
Police officers won the right to claim up to €500 a year for unpaid overtime between 1993 and 2009.
These extra hours of duty were considered over and above the 46 weekly hours.