The Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin has accused the Parliamentary Secretary for the Care of the Elderly of threatening day centre managers they would be reported to the Police Commissioner if they obeyed a legal directive issued by the union.

Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana denied the allegations

The union said that it had been requesting a grade structure for day centre employees for the past years because workers in the same grade had different duties ranging from management to assistance.

But the secretariat appointed a number of supervisors to start managing the centres.

The UHM said that although the government was bound to issue a call for supervisors, their role was not to manage the centres.

Moreover, the union was insisting that the workers who had been managing the centres for years should not be replaced by new staff.

So it asked for an immediate meeting with the director of the department and ordered workers to continue carrying out their usual duties and not to move from the centres.

But instead of meeting the union to solve the problem, Dr Caruana on Wednesday gathered workers and threatened them not to obey the directive, the union said.

It condemned Dr Caruana’s behaviour and encouraged workers to continue fighting for their rights.

It said it would continue to protect and fight for these workers and would not let anyone strangle their right to find support in the union of their choice.

In a reply, Dr Caruana said that the situation at day centres was such that officers in charge in the same grade and qualifications as other workers were carrying out administrative duties which were not their responsibility.

So she started working to appoint supervisors who were carrying out this work, which reflected their grade and qualifications.

These changes were being made in the best interests of the elderly attending the centres as well as the workers, who should do the work they were employed to do.

The meeting the UHM referred to, her secretariat said, was only held to put workers’ mind at rest that none of them would lose their job as had been alleged. No reference was made to the UHM or to any other union.

The secretariat said that although the UHM never requested a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary, the secretariat was always available to meet the union to explain the situation.

The way forward in the sector of the elderly was that this was managed in the elderly’s best interests with their dignity being respected and protected.

The secretariat had always consulted unions and it would continue to do so, it said.

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