VAT inspectors on strike; Ministry says UĦM still to reply

The Finance Ministry told Newsbook.com.mt that despite having sent three requests for a meeting with UĦM – Voice of the Workers, the Union was still yet to reply on whether it would attend a conciliation meeting which might bring to an end the industrial actions carried out by VAT Department employees. On the other hand the UĦM said that it expects tangible counter proposals from the Government.

VAT department employees have been striking since 5 November. While no information was forthcoming on the strike, the Ministry said that the VAT inspectors were ordered not to communicate via emails, letters, mobile phones, landline telephones, faxes, moreover they were instructed not to make external or internal calls, hold meetings with the public, and instructed not to process bills or VAT adjustment forms.

The Ministry explained that the Union was seeking an improvement of the sectoral agreement for VAT inspectors. The Ministry also said that a written request for a meeting was sent on 8 November, followed up by two reminders. The Ministry proposed the meeting for 20 November. However the Union was yet to reply whether it would be attending the meeting.

A spokesman for the Union told Newsbook.com.mt that meetings were held for two years, and explained that it was time for tangible proposals from the Government remarking that the discussions did not reach a desirable conclusion. The spokesman said that while it did not expect the government to endorse all its proposals, a balance would need to be found. He also told this newsroom that the UĦM would not exclude an escalation of the directives if no counter proposals were made by the Government.

Sources have told Newsbook.com.mt that when they called the call centre they were told that a number of processes were not happening due to “certain difficulties” which the department was experiencing.