Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar was awarded €7,000 in damages by a Labour-appointed grievances board over unfair treatment received under the Nationalist government between 2008 and 2013.

Details of this case emerged from a reply Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave to a parliamentary question tabled by Nationalist MP Ryan Callus. 

In 2014, when Mr Cutajar was already serving in his present post at the Office of the Prime Minister, he had sought redress before the grievances board set up that same year.

His complaint revolved around a remedy he was given by the Ombudsman’s Office in connection with a discrimination case. 

In 2009 he was given a Scale 4 salary in line with the Ombudsman’s decision, but this arrangement was on a one-year probation basis. 

In his reply, the Prime Minister said that such an appointment was done without the consent of the Public Service Commission and, consequently, the increase in salary would have no bearing on his pension. 

Moreover, when this probation period expired, Mr Cutajar’s appointment at Scale 4 was not extended, and were it not for his complaints, he would have reverted back to his 1985 salary, Dr Muscat said.

The Prime Minister said that when Mr Cutajar’s contract with Heritage Malta was terminated – a separate case in which the Employment Commission found he had suffered from political discrimination – he was deployed elsewhere and given a job that was 12 salary scales below his. Subsequently, he was given no duties at all in an attempt to “humiliate” him, the Prime Minister said. 

An attempt to ‘humiliate’ him

Mr Cutajar was also deployed to an office surrounded by better-paid employees who retained certain perks from their previous appointments such as use of a car, Dr Muscat added. 

“It was also confirmed that between 2008 and 2012, Mr Cutajar had applied for tens of directorates but was never appointed anywhere, and when it seemed like he was being considered for a job, the recruitment process was halted,” the Prime Minister said. 

Quoting from the conclusions of the grievances board, Dr Muscat noted that the selection boards would heap praise on Mr Cutajar’s qualities but at the same time flag some sort of impediment which would deter him for being chosen. 

In one instance, the selection board remarked that Mr Cutajar was out of touch with employment and industrial relations issues, even though he had 15 years’ experience in trade union relations, the Prime Minister said. 

Consequently, Mr Cutajar was awarded compensation over unfair treatment.