Hospital staff claim pay docked during industrial dispute, despite reporting for work

Three Mater Dei hospital employees have filed a sworn application claiming their pay was docked despite their continuing to report to work whilst obeying a trade union directive.


Three phlebotomists employed at Mater Dei hospital have asked a court to stop their employer from docking their pay despite their continuing to report for work whilst obeying a trade union directive.

This emerged from a sworn application filed this morning before the First Hall of the Civil Court this morning by Deborah Buttigieg, Jonathan Vella and Marisa Saliba against the health ministry’s permanent secretary Joseph Rapa and Mater Dei’s CEO Ivan Falzon.

The application, signed by lawyers Ian Spiteri Bailey and Victoria Cuschieri, explains that the plaintiffs, who normally work at the Sir Anthony Mamo section of hospital (SAMOC), had involved their union after recently receiving instructions to report for work in the Pathology Department on a rotation basis, because another phlebotomist wished to work at SAMOC.

The plaintiffs go on to explain that after a verbal agreement between the Union Haddiema Maghqudin and the hospital management about the transfers was “unilaterally” breached by Mater Dei.

Hospital management had given several reasons to justify the internal movement of staff, the application reads, the last of which involved allegations of a disciplinary breach by the phlebotomists, who strongly denied ever being subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

Because of this, the UHM had issued a directive to its members, instructing them to continue to report for work at SAMOC. What followed was a series of incremental petty acts of victimisation and injustices against the phlebotomists, which the plaintiffs claim, culminating in the deduction of a substantial amount of their pay – ranging from €560 to €884 – in the guise of an “absence deduction.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that this is in breach of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act which authorises such deductions only in confirmed cases of absence without permission and certainly not when the employees were still reporting at their place of work.

Not only were the defendant’s actions causing Buttigieg, Vella and Saliba to suffer financial prejudice, but also constituted a violation of their right of association in a trade union and to follow its directives, the application reads.

The applicants called on the court to uphold their request on a provisional basis to prevent their rights from suffering further prejudice until a final decision on the injunction was made.

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