Malta’s General Workers’ Union (GWU) has endorsed MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s report striving to realise the right to disconnect.
Agius Saliba has been advocating for this right even before he was elected as an MEP and has continuously pushed for it both locally and internationally. The ‘right to disconnect’ refers to workers being entitled to not answer emails and phone calls related to their job after work hours.
“The GWU has been saying that whilst digitalisation can bring about a number of benefits – such as flexible hours, teleworking, work-life balance, reduced traffic, and reduced emissions, this also means that employees’ work hours have been severely lengthened,” a spokesperson for the GWU said.
“This is having a detrimental effect on employees’ mental health and it tramples on some fundamental rights – such as just pay, health and safety, and the reduction of benefits according to the collective agreement.”
Graham Sansone, president of the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) has previously spoken in favour of the right to disconnect, as teachers were being made to respond to work-related emails throughout summer recess.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown that today’s work life can be different from that of the past. In light of this, the GWU is asking for strong legislation to protect workers’ rights,” the GWU continued.
“The GWU has had several meetings with Agius Saliba to contribute to this report and to deliver a clear picture of how digitalisation affects diverse sectors.”
Agius Saliba submitted said report – as both rapporteur and author – to the European Commission on 28th July.
“Whilst there is still a long road ahead for this right to be included in national employment laws, this report is a very important step forward,” the GWU concluded.