Malta considered as OSCE Chair – reports / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 8 November 2023

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Malta considered as OSCE Chair: In light of Russia’s opposition to Estonia’s expected appointment as the chair of the world’s largest security body, the OSCE, Malta has been approached as an alternative candidate. Russia is hesitant about Estonia’s nomination but is contemplating the possibility of accepting Malta as a “neutral” choice for the position. At least two other countries have been approached for the same reason. Despite these developments, Malta officially expresses its support for Estonia’s leadership role within the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. According to Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg, “Malta, in conjunction with EU member states, remains committed to endorsing Estonia’s candidacy for the OSCE chair in 2024, which is the sole official nomination currently under consideration. The OSCE continues to hold significant importance for Malta, and we are dedicated to supporting any initiatives aimed at its preservation.” (Times of Malta)

Workers in Malta work an average of 33.8 hours: Workers in Malta, on average, contribute 1,760 hours per year (equivalent to 33.8 hours per week), which surpasses the EU average of 1,714 hours per year (or 33 hours per week), a Eurofound report has found. The research finds that employees in France, Denmark, and Sweden have the shortest working hours, primarily because of their shorter weekly work schedules. While the typical weekly working hours in Malta amount to 40 hours, they decrease to 35.7 hours in France. In contrast, employees in Estonia, Hungary, and Poland work an average of almost 1,850 hours annually, primarily due to their fewer days of leave. (The Malta Independent)

Gafà wants to stay on as Police Commissioner: Shortly after Joseph Muscat expressed his trust in only the Police chief, Angelo Gafà has officially quelled the rumours about his retirement and announced his intention to serve for a second term. Gafà, who heads the nation’s police corps, addressed these retirement speculations in an interview, emphasizing the importance of stability and strong leadership in a rapidly changing world. “In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world,” Gafà stated during the interview, “my plan is to continue leading the police force beyond June.” (Newsbook)

Morning Briefing

PM defends economic record in budget counter-reply

PM Robert Abela defended government’s economic record in his budget response on Tuesday evening, highlighting high levels of economic growth and low level of inflation, while insisting that contrary to PN rhetoric, new economic sectors have been created under the present government, including medical cannabis, AI-related technologies, and drones. He denied that Malta’s economy was being based on a heavy increase of cheap labour, arguing that other sectors, such as IT, fuelled economic expansion. Dr Abela spoke at length on the issue of foreign workers, revealing that new regulations for temping agencies are in the pipeline and will be approved by Cabinet next week. He said that the basis of this regulations will be the concept of making it hard for third country nationals to be employed in Malta, but once they are among us, they are then treated with the highest levels of dignity with no distinction of nationality or ethnicity, including in terms of accomodation. He said however government was planning to discentivise companies who encouraged a high turnover of foreign workers.

Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti breaks silence about benefits scandal

Former Labour Party MP Silvio Grixti, who currently finds himself at the centre of allegations concerning a disability benefits racket, has implied that the Police Force is being selective in who and what they investigate. In what is his first public statement since being connected to a disability fraud racket, Grixti came out guns blazing, questioning Health Minister Chris Fearne – his former PL colleague – as to why allegations that medical certificates had been abused of were not investigated by police “as if everything had been forgiven.” Grixti asked how come in the recent past when there were stories in the media about abuse of these certificates the police never investigated them as if everything had been forgiven”. (Times of Malta)

Employers lament teachers’ union actions against Industrial Tribunal

The Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) said that the Union of Professional Educators’ (UPE) actions against the Industrial Tribunal and its members represent an unprecedented development that undermines the proper functioning of this institution. On Friday, the chairman and members of the Industrial Tribunal sent a letter to the President and Prime Minister, seeking “protection, help, and assistance” after being individually identified in a recent legal case initiated by the Union of Professional Educators. The MEA pointed out that any party involved in a case can request the disqualification of a member of the Industrial Tribunal if a conflict of interest is demonstrated. The employers recalled that the UPE itself had previously requested the disqualification of one of the members who had been appointed to serve on the panel before the hearings commenced. Furthermore, parties have the option to appeal any decision made by the Industrial Tribunal if they believe that the decision is flawed on legal grounds. (The Malta Independent)

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