Police officers are not allowed to perform traffic management duties for third parties – in a decision that has sparked a trade dispute. The police union claims the move is costing officers thousands of euros in overtime.
A police spokesperson explained that the decision was made because the force dealt with an increased number of overtime requests, particularly due to the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.
Thus, the additional traffic management obligations towards third parties were removed, as the request could be satisfied by the Local Enforcement System Agency – LESA and Transport Malta. Meanwhile, police officers willing to work overtime and be paid for overtime may request to do so in the areas required.
Each officer was given the opportunity to work almost 90 hours of additional duty in just one month.
“In July 2021, members of the Maltese police force performed 58,168.50 hours of overtime, which was covered by around 660 police officers willing to perform those duties. Had the hours been divided equally (which is not the case in practice since officers are free to choose the number of hours, days and times to perform additional duties), each officer was given the opportunity to work almost 90 hours of additional duties in one months only, ”the police spokesman said.
Commercial dispute filed
In a statement, the Maltese Police Union said a trade dispute was registered after the union’s request to continue offering the traffic management service at the request of third parties went “unanswered and completely ignored” .
“The Malta Police Union sees this service as an opportunity for police officers to earn extra income while on leave. This service is paid for by the person / entity that requests it and is only granted when a police officer is available on the date and time requested, ”the union said in a statement.
A police spokesperson said the decision was made as police faced rising requests for additional duties. Regarding overtime paid by the police, the police had to take care of 45 daily fixed points, including 23 covered 24/24 and 7/7. In addition, 80 agents per week are also called upon to work overtime at Paceville.
Why should police officers only work forced overtime in Paceville to make up for the understaffing at St Julian’s police station?
In the case of overtime, which was overtime paid by third parties, there were more than 60 security tasks with government departments or agencies and others, including law enforcement related to COVID-19, said the spokesperson.
In response to this, the union said outright denying this service made no sense given it was not known until when COVID-related services would be needed.
“Why are the opportunities available to police officers to improve their income constantly diminished by this administration? Why should police officers only work forced overtime in Paceville to deal with the understaffing at St Julian’s police station and the lack of planning of the police presence over the years for the Paceville area, when ‘There may also be other opportunities? “said the union.
Decision unrelated to traffic police scandal
The decision to shut down the third-party traffic management service is unrelated to the overtime racketeering that emerged last year and resulted in the arrest of some 38 officers. This had caused a massive staff shortage in the division and necessitated an internal call for candidates.
The issue emerged in early 2020 after an anonymous letter, from someone who calls himself a “whistleblower,” landed on the police commissioner’s office last December.
This letter launched investigations against some 38 officers, mainly stationed at the traffic section, ultimately leading to their arrest on February 11, 2020.
A lengthy investigation had shown that several members of the corps had actually claimed overtime for jobs they had never reported or performed.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party said there was no point in having police represented by unions if the force leadership continued to make decisions without consulting them.
He said the force can continue to improve conditions for officers by better handling work demands while ensuring that its members “get the maximum they can.”
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