Fuel station owners franchised by Enemed are reporting that Enemed officials are calling them and checking if they will form part of the industrial action beginning tonight, and telling that that if this is the case, there would be repercussions, the GRTU – chamber of SMEs said this evening.
The union condemns this act by the company, “which is meant to be independent and is being used for ulterior motives.”
Fuel stations went on strike after talks between the government and the GRTU, on the possibility of the government funding the renovation of fuel stations, broke down.
The GRTU said that the Enemed contract cannot stop any petrol station from safeguarding their interests and implementing the necessary decisions for their business. “The union will take all the necessary steps to protect its members.”
Enemed in a statement, categorically denied the allegations, and said that the company invested in a number of fuel station which became franchises in order for their clients to have the best service. Enemed said that it wants to ensure that the commercial relations it has with the fuel stations would not be negatively affected and that consumers have adequate access to fuel.
Earlier today, Energy Minister Joe Mizzi asked to meet the GRTU on Saturday over the ongoing fuel stations strike, but the chamber of SMEs has said that it will not wait until the end of the week and its actions will continue.
A meeting held on Monday evening yielded no results, with the GRTU announcing shortly afterwards that fuel stations would operate until closing time, at 6pm, after which motorists will not be able to take fuel. Furthermore, fuel station owners are withholding their license fees, which are payable to the Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS).
GRTU said these actions will remain in place until an agreement is reached and it is not excluded that the industrial action will be stepped up. It reiterated that it had presented the government with solutions that would not have an impact on consumers.
The government has not officially reacted to the strike action, but the Labour Party media reported on Tuesday that Energy Minister Joe Mizzi had asked to meet the GRTU on Saturday.
In comments to The Malta Independent, GRTU CEO Abigail Mamo said: “We have made it clear that we will not be waiting until Saturday. This is an important issue and we have waited enough. We are waiting for an urgent meeting.”
“Petrol stations are not ready to wait until Saturday. We are in 2019, and there are many methods how one can communicate and come to an understanding,” Mamo added.
Traffic jams formed near a number of fuel stations yesterday, as motorists rushed to fill up their tanks before closing time. Congestion in these areas was worst in the morning and before the afternoon rush hour.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party urged the government not to be hard-headed, and to enter into credible and serious discussions with the GRTU and find a solution for the “burden that the government wants to place on fuel station owners.”
It said this situation had been brought about by the Labour government. It said the government can easily help fuel station owners without increasing prices. This could have easily been done had it not squandered €14 million on the Azerbaijan fuel deal, the €40 million for the purchase of gas from Socar and the €200 million being paid every two years to Electrogas.
In 2014, the GRTU presented the government with a detailed study on a restructuring programme that needed to be in place by 2020. To get in line with an EU directive, the study showed that all the equipment of 80 out of the 90 petrol stations in Malta and Gozo would need to be changed. This includes the petrol pumps, piping and the underground storage tanks.
The study noted that a total of €21 million was needed to complete all the necessary petrol pump upgrades needed to get in line with the EU directive.
In a statement on Wednesday, the government said the Malta Resources Authority had, in 2011 allowed fuel station owners to set higher profit margins on condition that they would pay for the investment required to be carried out by 2020.
The government said it had noted the increases requested by the GRTU but did not accept in view of the fact that consumer prices increase according to the international fuel prices.
The government offered an increase that was higher than that decided in 2011 which does not put any added burden on families and businesses, the government said, adding that it was still open to discussion.
The Labour Party, in reaction to the PN’s statement, said that for the PN the solution would be to accept a request through which the price of fuel would rise for families and businesses.
They said that the PN’s position is against an agreement a PN government had reached itself.
The PL said that if energy policies were in the PN’s hands, the price of electricity and fuel would again rise.
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