Newly launched trade and tenants’ union to fight for level playing field

A new independent trade union has been launched to curtail workplace exploitation while offering a section dedicated to levelling the playing field between landlords and tenants.

Solidarjetà, launched on Monday, hopes to attain a strong voice to “fight on behalf of working people’s interests.”

While non-partisan, the union intends to “influence the political agenda” for “a more equal society.”

In a press release announcing the union’s launch on Tuesday, Solidarjetà said it “was set up to empower both workers and tenants” and will “work towards enhancing their living and working conditions.”

In comments to The Shift, Solidarjetà President and economist Matthew Attard said the union’s formation came about from the recognition that many workers, many of whom are tenants rather than homeowners, lacked adequate representation.

Gabriel Apap, Solidarjetà’s secretary-treasurer, said it was “committed to fighting for higher wages, reduced wealth and income inequality, housing affordability, and a shorter working week.”

Commenting about Solidarjetà’s agenda, Attard noted that alongside NGO Moviment Graffitti and the Tenant Support Network online group, the group has already been in talks with Housing Minister Roderick Galdes about a rent law reform promised by the government.

Attard noted that the reform as currently proposed would introduce changes which would be deferential to the landlord at the tenant’s expense. These included an extension to the rental contract registration time limits and a removal of tenants’ right to a deposit refund in select cases.

The newly launched union will have a dedicated tenants’ section, which will “assist members directly through negotiations with landlords and agents to improve their living conditions, getting back their rightful deposit and ensuring landlords are not abusing the law.”

The Shift has reported how Galdes’ reform is set to ‘introduce’ a limit of six persons registered to a single dwelling, despite the limit being already in place in Planning Authority legislation. The reform also promised improvements achieved through IT automation.

Over the last few years, many media reports about disagreements between tenants and landlords brought the issue to the fore.

Cases including that of a singular Sliema apartment rented out to 40 low-paid workers or that of a couple being forcefully evicted from their home after the landlord cemented the entrance shut serve as examples of the problems faced.

The union has also launched a website with accessible information regarding tenants’ rights “due to a lack of accessible information.”

The website also includes contact and sign-up information for prospective members.

                           

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