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Malta court sides with trade union, puts NetEnt layoffs on hold

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Malta’s Superior Court has issued an injunction against NetEnt, blocking the supplier from making layoffs connected to its acquisition by live dealer giant Evolution, following an industrial dispute from labour union the General Workers Union (GWU).

Last week, Evolution announced that it has begun to integrate NetEnt in the wake of its SEK19.60bn (£1.72bn/€1.91bn/$2.30bn) deal for the slot specialist, agreed in June. This will see it make €30m of cost-cutting measures, including 324 layoffs in Malta. 

However, this week the General Workers’ Union – which is Malta’s largest trade union and represents the majority of NetEnt’s Malta employees – declared an industrial dispute related to the layoffs and threatened industrial action. It said the businesses failed to acknowledge it as an employee representative for planned layoffs.

This, it said, would be in violation of both Malta’s Collective Redundancies (Protection of Employment) Regulations – which state “the employer proposing to declare the collective redundancy has the duty to notify in writing the employees’ representatives” – and the Transfer of Business (Protection of Employment) Regulations, which offers additional protections for merger-related layoffs.

Rather than consulting the union, the GWU said the business appointed its own “employee representative. The GWU said this representative “was dismissive of the employees’ pleas”.

The union added that it believed the failure to consult it was a deliberate action to limit employees’ abilities to exercise their rights as they faced redundancy.

“The GWU decried NetEnt and Evolution Gaming’s anti-union tactics, which it contends are intended to prevent an effective consultation of employees at a critical moment when they are facing potential redundancy days before Christmas,” it said.

The GWU added that employees were only notified of the layoffs last week, and that some said  they were “escorted out of their place of work that same day by the new owners”.

The court sided with the GWU’s request to grant an injunction, meaning the layoffs will be at least put on hold until a hearing on 17 December.

“Thanks to the Court’s intervention following our urgent request, 324 illegal dismissals have now been put on hold,” a GWU representative said. “We will continue to insist that NetEnt and Evolution Gaming honour their consultation obligations in full, and we will do our utmost to ensure that jobs are saved, and, where that is not possible, that appropriate compensation is paid.”

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