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MALTATODAY 15 August 2021

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11 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 15 AUGUST 2021 NEWS BOV workers bring in union over 'excessive' workloads PAUL COCKS BANK of Valletta has agreed to lighten the load on a number of employees who have com- plaining of excessive workloads and impossible targets, brought about by a schedule of major or- ganisational changes the bank introduced to improve its cus- tomer servicing capabilities. The General Workers Union registered an industrial dispute with BOV for breach of the collective agreement, following extensive outisde recruitment. In a letter to BOV employee members – seen by MaltaTo- day – General Workers Union (GWU) section secretary Ric- carda Darmanin insisted that "the general morale of the staff has never been so low as these days". The 'alarming' number of em- ployees resigning from their jobs at BOV was blamed on employees feeling that bank management considered them unskilled and incapable of be- ing given roles in the new bank structure. Employees who spoke to this newspaper said the changes in- troduced by the bank were too drastic and abrupt. "To make matters worse, many of us were assigned new tasks and targets while still per- forming old duties because the migration to the new structure is taking longer than predict- ed," one employee said. "And above all this, they are setting unattainable KPI (key perfor- mance indicators) targets for us, knowing full well we can never reach those targets while this confusion is ongoing." Key performace indicators are set by management as tar- gets for employees to fulfil in a certain time window. Not ful- filling one's KPIs could affect an employee's performance reviews, bonuses, chances for promotion or even the job it- self. A spokesperson for GWU confirmed that BOV has given the employees new tasks and targets, which they are doing their utmost to reach. "At the same time, it was agreed that back-office work had to mi- grate to other specialised de- partments, but the process is still in progress. Due to this, most of the employees are find- ing it difficult to cope with the situation," they said. MaltaToday is informed that these new KPIs were in fact the biggest concern raised in a meeting the union held for BOV employees on 13 July. Many employees complained that management had raised targets without carrying out a review exercise to determine the effects of such increases. The GWU instructed its members to attend interim KPI meetings but not to accept them if they considered them off-track. The union called on the bank's HR department to pres- ent its study and data on which the raised KPI targets had been issued. The GWU later sought a meeting with Bank of Valletta CEO Rick Hunkin, to discuss the new service model, lack of career progression and lack of communication. Several sug- gestions were discussed to fa- vour employees' health without hindering the bank's transfor- mation programme. "It was agreed to build a feasi- ble, processing infrastructural plan, to ease the burden on the employees," the spokesperson said. "This plan will allow em- ployees to focus on their dele- gated KPIs, reach the desired results and to reschedule the products courses listed in KPIs to have a work/family life bal- ance during summer and the festive season." Overall, the spokesperson described the meeting with Hunkin as 'very positive'. "The GWU embraces the nec- essary changes the Bank needs to carry out," a spokesperson said. "However the workers' well-being must always be considered. The Union aims to take a strategic approach to attain the best results for both sides." This newspaper reached out to BOV for its comment on the issue, but no reply was forth- coming by the time of going to print. JAMES DEBONO THE Superintendence for Cul- tural Heritage wants the Plan- ning Authority to "remove" a store on the Gozo field where construction magnate Joe Portelli's daughter also added an irregular 22sq.m concrete platform. What was supposed to be an agricultural store in a Nadur field is now a room with a slop- ing roof and a platform, built outside the development zones. Chloe Portelli, daughter of the Mercury House developer and Hamrun Spartans president, had originally sought a permit for a 20sq.m agricultural store. But the room was eventually built differently from that per- mitted by the PA last February. Now the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has ex- pressed its concern that the structure – built not recycled stone as requested, but in con- crete blocks – has been given "extremely wide apertures, a sloping roof and a concrete platform". Noting that the room has "negatively affected the percep- tion of the cultural landscape", the SCH is not just objecting to its regularisation, but wants the unauthorized development removed. The Environment and Re- sources Authority is also ob- jecting to the requested sanc- tioning, saying the design of the structure and the platform have created adverse visual impact on the surroundings. The store is located on Portel- li's 23,000sq.m plot in the vi- cinity of the Kennuna tower in Nadur, from which one can enjoy idyllic views of Malta and Comino. The PA had also regular- ised the construction of a long stretch of highly, visible rubble walls on the same site, after im- posing a €1,200 fine. The walls and the new store are located on an open ter- raced land known as il-Ġebel l-Aħmar on the southern coun- tryside of Nadur, facing the village of Għajnsielem, and is highly visible from various sur- rounding areas. The Gozo and Comino local plan shows the area designated as an Area of High Landscape Sensitivity. Portelli also wants regular- ised the deposit of soil on a 1,485sq.m parcel of land. The case officer's report had originally justified the new store because it would be serving a stretch of registered arable land in Nadur of over 18 tumolo. Chloe Portelli had submitted proof that she works this parcel of land in the form of photo- graphic evidence, showing the site being cultivated, together with agricultural receipts. Originally Portelli had applied for a 40sq.m store, but this was reduced in size to ensure it ful- fils the criteria set in the PA's rural policy. As approved the store was to be constructed in recycled stone and fitted with timber-painted green aper- tures. Prophetically, in its objec- tion to the store, the ERA had warned that further applica- tions would follow to extend and amend the development "to create a structure which is better suited for residential purposes". 'Store with a view' in Gozo construction magnate's field should be removed, Culture Heritage watchdog says Watchdog wants Portelli's irregular 'store' removed The store is located on Portelli's 23,000sq.m plot in the vicinity of the Kennuna tower in Nadur, from which one can enjoy idyllic views of Malta and Comino.

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