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COUNTRY OVERVIEW

Employee board-level representation in Malta is found only in a few state-owned or recently privatised companies. Both unions and employers were consulted on legislation implementing the directive but do not seem to have given the issue a high priority and there was no public debate.

For further information on the SE legislation, such as the choice of SNB members, click on the more button.

Only very few companies in Malta have employee representatives at board level, and, with the exception of companies owned either by the GWU, one of the two main union groupings, or the social democratic Malta Labour Party, they are all either state-owned or recently privatised.

Past experience of worker participation through “workers’ committee” which played a part in running state-owned companies has been unhappy, and there is no tradition of employee representation, other than through the unions (see Saviour Rizzo 2004). These and other factors, such as the lack of larger Maltese-owned companies with operations across Europe, and the range of other EU legislation which Malta transposed at the same time, may explain the lack of interest in the transposition of the directive. It was, however, discussed in the Employment Relations Board – a tripartite consultative body which consists of representatives of unions and employers and members appointed by government. There is no evidence of any wider public debate.

Form of transposition

Directive was transposed by law in 2004 just after the deadline of 8 October 2004.

The directive on employee involvement in European companies was transposed through the regulations made by Minister of Education, Youth and Employment on which were published in the Government Gazette of Malta on 22 October 2004, two weeks after the deadline of 8 October 2004. The title of the legislation which was published as Legal Notice 452 of 2004 was Employee Involvement (European Company) Regulations 2004 (Regolamenti ta’ l-2004 dwar Involviment ta’ l-Impjegati (Kumpannija Ewropea).

It is not clear whether separate legislation has been passed to adapt company legislation in Malta to the Regulation on European companies.

Special negotiating body (SNB)

Selection of national members

Maltese SNB members are elected directly by the employees.

The legislation sets out in detail how members of the SNB from Malta are appointed. They are elected by the employees with management responsible for the arrangements for the holding of the ballot. However, the management is required to consult with employee representatives on the arrangements for the ballot and appoint an “independent ballot supervisor” to oversee the vote. The ballot supervisor informs the employees that the ballot will take place, sets the date and publishes the results. He or she can also state that the ballot was unfair and individual employees or employee representatives can also make complaints about the fairness of the procedure (Regulation 5).

External trade union representatives

External union representatives can be SNB members in Malta, but only if the management agrees.

The Maltese legislation specifically states that a representative of a trade union who is not an employee may stand for election to the SNB, but only “if the management of that participating company so permits” (Article 5).

Financing of experts

Funding limited to a single expert.

The legislation limits the costs to a single expert (Article 6).

Standard rules under the fallback procedure

Allocation of national seats on SE representative body

The method for choosing Maltese members of the SE representative body is not spelled out in the legislation; it is left to the SNB.

The legislation does not lay down specific rules on how Maltese members of the SE representative body, known in the Maltese legislation as the representative body (Il-korp rappre ż entattiv) should be chosen. It only sets out briefly how the members of the representative body overall should be chosen. They should be elected or appointed by the employees’ representatives in the company, or if there are none by “the entire body of employees”. It is left up to the SNB to decide how this should be done. As the legislation states, “the election or appointment of members of the representative body shall be carried out by the special negotiating body, in accordance with any method it adopts”. However, in contrast to the SNB, only employees can be members of the representative body, not external trade union representatives (Schedule Part 1).

Budget of representative body

The company should bear the costs of the representative body, including a single expert.

The company is obliged to bear the costs of the representative body, so that its members can “perform their duties in an appropriate manner”. These include the expenses of “one expert only” (Schedule Part 2).

National procedure for the allocation of board seats

There are no specific national rules for the choice of Maltese employee representatives at board level. The legislation only deals with the overall situation, where the choice is left to the representative body.

The legislation does not include national rules for the choice of employee board-level representatives from Malta. It deals only with the overall situation, where it repeats some of the wording of the directive and states that it is for the representative body to decide on the way in which “the SE’s employees may recommend or oppose the appointment of the members of these [board-level] bodies (Schedule Part 3).

Misuse of procedures and structural change

Misuse of procedures

Misuse of procedures is banned, although with little detail as to what this might mean, or what the response should be.

There are no specific details what might constitute misuse of procedures. However, the legislation does that that “no person shall use an SE for the purpose of depriving employees of rights to employee involvement or withholding any such rights” (Article 14). The legislation does not, however, state that in such circumstances negotiations should be reopened.

Structural change

The Maltese legislation does not provide for renegotiation after structural change.

There is no automatic right to renegotiate the agreement if there are changes in the structure of the SE.

Position of trade unions and employers

Unions and employers were consulted on the introduction of the legislation. However, there is no evidence of a debate.

Unions and employers were involved in the discussions on the transposition of the directive on employee involvement in European companies into law in Malta, as the issue was discussed in the Employee Relations Board. However, there is no evidence that either side took up clear positions on the proposal, although the general line of the employers has been to resist developments which they feared might reduce their freedom of action.

L. Fulton (2008) Anchoring the European Company in National Law - Country Overviews (online publication, prepared for worker-participation.eu)

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