UĦM directives impacting children negatively – CRPD

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The directives issued by UĦM – Voice of the Workers are having a negative impact on children with disability receiving therapy, the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability said on Thursday.

In a statement, the CRPD voiced its concern on the latest union directives which have once again halted therapy services for children with disability.

Union issues directives over expired collective agreement
UĦM issues directives for Allied Health Professionals

The commission explained that a number of worried parents had reached out complaining about the situation.

Therapy services had already been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CRPD remarked that while it understood the workers’ need to fight for their rights, the timing was a ‘poor’ one since such services had already been cut short due to the pandemic.

“Just as therapy services were about to resume after months of inactivity, the union directives have once again put a stop to these essential services, to the detriment of children with disability. Our interest is to ensure that disabled children are not disadvantaged in any way, according to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with a Disability,” Commissioner Oliver Scicluna said.

The industrial actions were initiated over an expired collective agreement and apply to audiologists, occupational therapists, dental hygienists, dental technologists, biomedical scientists, physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, radiographers and podiatrists. Physiotherapists at CDAU are still providing a service.  

Under these directives, therapists are only providing emergency services.

The industrial dispute was registered in January, however it was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The collective agreement expired in December 2017.

Commissioner Scicluna noted that these children and their families endured months of strain due to the pandemic, adding that by stopping therapy services, one creates the possibility for regression and can lead to the loss of progress.

The CRPD remarked that the present situation is forcing parents to seek services privately. This is placing more financial strain on the parents while other children are left without therapy since not all parents can afford to pay for such essential services.

The commission called on the government to find an equitable solution for its employees. It also appealed to the common humanity of those involved and thanked those therapists who have been providing emergency services.

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