MAM suspends industrial action, as new measures ‘very close’ to its requests

Updated 03:40 PM
Miguela Xuereb

The Medical Association of Malta has decided to suspend its industrial action after noting that the measures announced by the government earlier today were “very close” to what it had requested.

The MAM council, which held an online meeting at 4pm, said that in light of this, there was no justification for further industrial action at this stage.

The doctors’ union encouraged the public to comply with the measures, and pledged to follow their implementation closely. It reserved the right to react “if enforcement is found wanting.”

“It is extremely important both for public health and the economy that Covid numbers are brought down as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of a lockdown which would have graver consequences on the economy,” the union concluded.

Earlier in the day, before the new measures were announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne, the MAM had warned that its industrial action would resume tomorrow should they prove to be inadequate.

Fearne welcomed the MAM’s decision, taking to Twitter to declare himself very pleased at their endorsement of the measures he announced.

Enforcement crucial, MAM president insists

The council’s assessment of the new measures echoed what MAM president Martin Balzan told Newsbook.com.mt in a special programme which was organised to discuss their impact.

The MAM had insisted on limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people, but the government chose to set a limit of 15. It also disagreed on the decision to permit wedding receptions, albeit ones in which guests would be seated, though Balzan observed that practically all upcoming weddings have been cancelled in any case.

Additionally, the doctors’ union wished to require swab tests for all overseas arrivals, not just those on an amber list, since numbers were now rising across Europe.

But he emphasised that two matters were important, not least people’s need to be disciplined and comply with measures. The public needed to realise that it was in its own interest to adhere to the measures as it had done earlier in the pandemic, Balzan said.

The other issue was enforcement, since there would inevitably be those who will break the rules “because they don’t care or because they feel they will personally benefit by doing so,” according to Balzan.

He insisted that enforcement should be strong and visible, involving the police. Additionally “fines should be fines,” he added, warning against a repeat of the controversial “amnesty” announced on fines relating to people gathering in large groups earlier this year.

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