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Malta's General Workers' Union (GWU), through its general secretary, Josef Bugeja, has called on the government of Malta to reinstate, in the upcoming 2017 draft budget, as promised, the system of day in lieu non-working public holidays in Malta when a Maltese annual public holiday falls on a weekend.
The aforementioned GWU appeal ("the removal of public holidays falling on weekends from workers' vacation leave was only meant to be a “temporary” measure. These holidays should be given back to workers, Mr Bugeja argued, even if the measure is introduced in a gradual manner.") comes a couple of months ahead of the expected announcement by the government of Malta of a draft budget for 2017, to avoid being caught off-guard, as was the case last year (2015-10-15), when the government of Malta, despite its assessment of the economy of Malta as "doing well", submitted a draft budget for 2016 which did not reinstate, as promised, the system of day in lieu non-working public holidays in Malta.
Before 2005, in Malta, a Monday public holiday was declared whenever a fixed-date public holiday fell on a weekend. But, following a Nationalist victory at the polls in 2003, the National Holidays and Other Public Holidays Act (Chapter 252 of the Laws of Malta) was amended so that "with effect from 1st January, 2005 when a National Holiday or a Public Holiday listed in the Schedule falls on a Saturday or on a Sunday, it shall not be deemed to be a public holiday for the purposes of entitling any person to an additional day of vacation leave" (2004-12-03 and 2005-01-15).
The amended legislation was contested repeatedly by the GWU (2005-09-20 and 2007-01-27), but to no avail (2007-10-21), and a couple of years later (2007-12-16), sensing a easy vote-getter, Malta's Labour Party promised that, if elected in the next general elections, they would restore the pre-2005 practice of declaring a Monday public holiday when a fixed-date public holiday fell on a weekend.
However, despite the electoral victory of Malta's Labour Party at the last general elections (2013-03-10), none of the public holidays contained in the subsequent list of national holidays and non-working public holidays in Malta (2015-01-07 and 2014-01-10) were moved to a Monday.
In a statement made in response to the aforementioned Malta's General Workers' Union appeal, the President of Malta's Chamber of Commerce, Anton Borg, stated that "It is most unhealthy to drag issues out of the past, that have been settled and concluded for more than ten years", adding that the issue was "“a closed chapter.”".
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