Article taken from Times of Malta print, 30th May 2013, pg. 4. Written/Compiled by Kurt Sansone
Staff transfers at St Vincent de Paul were based on “operational requirements”, according to the Government, which has admitted that unions were not informed.
The transfers have ruffled the feathers of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses and the Union Haddiema Maghqudin, the two unions represented, at the State home that houses almost 1,200 elderly residents.
A spokesman for the Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing, Franco Mercieca, said the home’s management had frequent meetings with unions to discuss operational changes but not this time.
“This particular redeployment exercise was not discussed with any of the unions,” he said.
He insisted that staff deployment was “the sole prerogative” of the home’s management and this was normally attached to operational requirements.
The transfers were in line with the restructuring exercise at the home, the spokesman said, adding the reason was to increase efficiency and improve the quality of service. Employees who worked at an activity centre, which also catered for dementia patients, were informed of their transfer this week after management decided to close down the unit.
The MUMN complained that it felt “tricked”, saying it transpired that the centre was being revamped rather than closed down.
The union, which represents four nurses affected by the management decision, also pointed out that carers could not administer medicine to dementia patients unless supervised by a nurse.
The parliamentary secretariat yesterday insisted the activity entre “as we know it” would stop operating. “The services previously offered will be amalgamated within the new Active Ageing Promotion Unit;’ a spokesman said.
Addressing the concern on the administration of medicine, the spokesman said management would also “address other issues that might create operational challenges”. He did not elaborate.
The spokesman played down the extent of the problem, saying only “a handful of cases” were “challenging to implement”. The management was committed to address these issues in the best interest of employees and patients. The UMM last night complained of further transfers by the Family Ministry and said it had to resort to industrial measures to safeguard the interests of workers.