European Committee for Social Rights – Conclusions 2018 on Malta.
Article 6 – Right to bargain collectively
Paragraph 4 – Collective action
The Committee takes note of the information contained in the report submitted by Malta. It refers to its previous conclusions as regards the legislative framework relevant to collective action (Conclusions XVIII-1 (2006), 2010, 2014).
Specific restrictions to the right to strike and Procedural requirements:
In its previous conclusion (Conclusions 2014), the Committee asked whether public officials were subject to restrictions to their right to strike and under what circumstances such restrictions applied. In relation to every service subject to restrictions with regard to the right to strike, the Committee asked the authorities to indicate if and to what extent work stoppages may undermine respect for the rights and freedoms of others or threaten the public interest, national security, public health, or morals. In this context, it also asked whether such restrictions were in all cases proportionate to achieve the objective of ensuring, in a democratic society, the abovementioned respect.
The report does not answer these questions.
The Committee notes however that Article 64, paragraph 6 of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (EIRA) provides for restrictions to the right to strike for certain categories of workers (Air Traffic Controllers, members of the Assistance and Rescue Force, workers involved in port emergency) or when this is necessary to ensure a minimum service (essential services, import of certain products, transport, water, energy). It asks the next report to explain in detail the restrictions applicable to the right to strike in the light of the requirements of Articles 6(4) and G of the Charter. It considers that if such information should not be provided, there would be nothing to establish that the situation is in conformity with the Charter on this point. It reserves in the meantime its position. The report confirms that members of disciplined forces (naval, military and air force, police force, staff of prison services and Assistance and Rescue Force) can join a trade union but are not allowed to strike.
The Committee recalls that, concerning police officers, an absolute prohibition on the right to strike can be considered in conformity with Article 6(4) only if there are compelling reasons justifying it. On the other hand the imposition of restrictions as to the mode and form of such strike action can be in conformity with the Charter (European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) v. Ireland, Complaint No. 83/2012, Decision on the admissibility and merits of 2 December 2013, 211). As the report does not provide any indication of the compelling reasons justifying an absolute restriction to the right to strike for the police, the Committee considers that the situation is not in conformity with Article 6§4 of the Charter on this point. As regards the consequences of strikes, the Committee refers to its previous conclusions (Conclusions XVIII-1 (2006), 2010, 2014) where it found the situation to be in conformity with the Charter.
Conclusion: The Committee concludes that the situation in Malta is not in conformity with Article 6(4) of the Charter on the ground that the absolute prohibition of the right to strike of the police goes beyond the limits permitted by Article G of the Charter