25 July 2001
By Kurt Sansone
The controversy over the refusal of 16 Malta Shipbuilding welders to work on a Scandinavian-owned ship in the Drydocks and the subsequent importation of Polish workers to do the job, deepened yesterday with GWU secretary general Tony Zarb rebutting allegations that surfaced in the press.
According to media reports, last week the shipbuilding yard management ordered 21 welders to shift to the Drydocks to help out with repairs on a ship currently in dock.
The Malta Financial and Business Times is informed that only five accepted and as a consequence the Polish workers had to be assigned to the job instead of the 16 welders who refused.
Nonetheless, Tony Zarb told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the Polish workers did not come to Malta because of the refusal of the 16 Shipbuilding welders to work at the Drydocks.
"The Polish workers had been earmarked beforehand. They did not surface because of this incident," he reiterated.
Mr Zarb added that the GWU Executive committee met yesterday to discuss the issue and a proposal was put forward to the Shipbuilding management in a bid to reach a solution on the matter. He also confirmed that the union did not order any industrial action at the Shipbuilding, which means that the strike action taken by the 16 welders on Monday was not a union directive.
Asked the reason for the workers refusal to take the Drydocks job, Mr Zarb did not elaborate. "There are various reasons for the refusal and we are looking into the issues to see whether they are justified or not."
Meanwhile, the 16 workers who refused the job have had their pay suspended by the management.
The Drydocks has an agreement with the Shipbuilding that was cleared
by the GWU, which states that when the Dockyard required workers it
first had to resort to the Malta Shipbuilding.