2 - 8 May, 2001

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SWim, It’s working, it’s working

The campaign for a Switzerland in the Mediterranean (SWim) is slowly but surely finding a very receptive audience.

The fault lies with the pro-EU lobby which is unfocused, disorganised and lacks a charismatic leader.

The only flak levied at the Swim campaign is handled by two to three Nationalist party spokesmen, who lack the respect of most independent minded people and who are in no mood for listening to more anti-Alfred Sant diatribes.

MIC have their up and downs, but most of the time they are caught in tit for tat statements justifying their objective campaigning.

The EU campaign has to be direct, abrasive and headed by a person who does not have an axe to grind or a paycheque to collect.

The EU campaigners need to detach themselves from the government and walk down an alternative route.

The stark reality is that when the truth about the European Union surfaces, there will be more people on the political right than on the political left who will take a position against accession.

The tactic is to appeal to the intellectual class within the Labour party, because these are intrinsically in favour of Europe.

The issues that need to be raised are fundamentally the following:
The first is that, without Europe, our economy will not grow. By opting out of Europe we will simply fall apart.

The second is that Europe will be a loose federation of 500 million citizens and this will offer endless economic possibilities. Staying out will mean that we will lose out.

The third is that we owe it to our children and the younger generation to be there at par with the other countries.

The fourth is the issue that European Union has to be pictured as an issue of life or death.

And the last condition is that the government must get pre-accession funds to soften accession birth pangs.

(Let us not forget that Malta will be a contributor, not a recipient, of funds after some time).

Dr Alfred Sant has one very useful tool and this is called scare-mongering. He does this effectively but he has no concrete answers what Malta is to do out of Europe.

The yes for Europe campaign must brace itself for some tough talking – it cannot rest on its laurels and it must seek individuals who are not solely bred and fed by the Nationalist party or government machine.

That way, they will appear credible to the people that need to be convinced – the open minded middle classes consisting of Labourites and Nationalists.

Holding on steady on collective agreements

The collective agreements that are presently being negotiated offer another opportunity for mistakes.

There are some hefty requests being made: for example, University lecturers are calling for a 100% increase. Surely University staff need better wages, but not 100% back-dated for three years.

The same argument applies to MIA, MDS and others.

The government has made mistakes in the past and injected inflated salaries for the public sector and asked nothing in return.

The decision to instil a measure of benchmarking for efficiency in the public sector is a welcome motion. But what we need now is a serious overview of accountability in this sector.

The collective agreements are most of the time focused on salary structures but some, such as at the MDS, go further, with unions there asking for afternoons off in summer. A far-fetched request in this day and age.

Let us not make the mistake of forgetting the magnitude of our deficit and financial crises.

Saviour Balzan



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