21 – 27 February 2001

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A primed prime minister

There are many lessons to extrapolate from the La Salle saga. The first is that a strong government produces strong results. The second is that the GWU, when nipped in the bud, can be stopped.
And the third is that Alfred Sant is a bad loser, even though he admires the government for its prudent stance.
Dr Fenech Adami's firm nationwide statement was welcomed by all. It sent a positive message to the people and everyone could feel the boomerang coming back.
Prime minister, they said, we are with you.
And this is very refreshing, more so when we have experienced a Nationalist government that was slowly but steadily appearing to be headless.
In this scenario, the GWU had pushed its luck way too far. Thankfully, good health and local council elections primed a Prime Minister to act fast, in a pre-1987 sort of mood.
The government, out of pure sanctity, is in no position to gloat, but we are. The union has had a beating - it deserved and needed it.
Here we are dictated and ruled by a state within a state that purports to believe that it has the god-given right to determine policy and strategy.
And we also know that the union has two weights and two measures - when a Nationalist government abounds, it takes on the persona of a gladiator while, with a Labour government it is nothing more than a subdued eunuch.
The government should be applauded, but it should act quickly to solve this long-term problem at the dockyard and more so of the union leaders there, who have robbed the workers of their soul and commitment to themselves and their families.
There is no room for Arthur Scargills at the dockyard, and the government should not hesitate to extend the cold iron hand of certainty and determination.
It has the people and fiscal policy on its side. Don't let us down now.

A future perfect

The above title is the theme of a captivating book that over-emphasises the phenomena of globalisation and anyone who has not yet grasped the idea behind this concept could well do with this good read.
Certainly, it would be an ideal gift for a number of gentlemen in South Street, Valletta.
The integration of the world's economies is not only reshaping business but it is also reordering the lives of individuals, creating new social classes, different jobs and wealth.
The primary lesson from globalisation is the explanation of why the traditional manufacturing jobs are being replaced with service jobs and, naturally, there will always be politicians who claim that new jobs are less tangible than the old ones.
The argument here is that the new service industry offers little more than sugar coating. However, this interpretation is incorrect as, on average, service jobs are higher paid than those in manufacturing.
And, as to the argument that shipbuilding and ship repair are noble professions, isn't it odd to see how few of those who aim to promote this idea actually have a yearning to re-enter this profession themselves?
Of course we are all winners several times over, as consumers, through the effects of globalisation.
If we were, as a nation, to turn our backs on globalisation, we would end up reverting to our protectionist past.
Accordingly, we need to be far more proactive in making the case for free trade, so that the population as a whole can realise the opportunities and benefits that globalisation has to offer.
The role of government and businesses should be to lead people through this delicate, sometimes trying, but unquestionably positive process of change – coupled with appropriate support through retraining and updating of worker's skills. The government must assist companies to first identify and then diversify into new markets or products.
In the new global economy, neither Malta nor any other country can afford the easy illusion of isolationism. We must never forget that the path of open trade and open capital markets has brought unprecedented growth, greater opportunities and a better life for people across the world.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt