Reforms at MDD: the final countdown
The MDD Task Forces recommendations are very welcome news.
It comes after a record short working calendar and it comes up with
a blue print for downsizing a company that has been crying out for reform
When, and if, this happens it would lead to a cultural change in labour
The MDD has relived Scargillian tactics over and over again. It was
considered a sacred cow, finally, the workers and their leaders have
come to terms with the fact that there is no easy way ahead but only
the third way.
It has taken ages for reform to hit the road at MDD.
Since 1987 the PN government has faced an interminable number of threats
from the MDD extremists and instead of confronting the issue, it has
had to bow to pressure.
This has left the MDD in the enviable position of receiving funds for
little in return.
Public funds have been funnelled to subsidise wages, while very little
was put into marketing or capital investment.
Finally it has dawned that this loss-making venture cannot go on.
The deal allows for an early retirement scheme in a fixed period of
time. The scheme is obligatory and in our view this is the most worrisome
aspect to the task force proposal. What happens if not enough workers
accept the scheme?
Will the union panic and alter the goalposts to this blueprint?
There is across the board agreement that the MDD should not continue
to receive its present subsidies. This will be trimmed down to Lm2 million
over a period of years.
The success of this venture is also possible because of the maturity
shown by the Labour opposition, who have actively supported this deal.
To be fair to them, they have tried very hard to initiate reforms at
the MDD but there was no media or opposition (PN) support at the time.
The only hitch to their stance are their conditional statements that
nothing should be done to accommodate the EUs insistence that
dockyard subsidies are cut.
Which is a ludicrous point of view considering that the catalyst to
many of the changes currently taking place are a direct result of Maltas
True, the reforms that need to be taken in hand have little to do with
Europe. But then again, many of the considerations and criteria set
out by the EU are, in essence, agreed to by all the parties.
The Nationalist government has finally chosen to take the bull by the
It will not be easy to implement the Task Forces brief, but it
must be seen to for everyones good.
When this eventually gets off the ground, one must start considering
reforms in other sectors, indeed some other companies offer parallel
lives to that at the MDD. The Water Services Corporation, Enemalta and
PBS are fine examples.
These corporations are also heavily subsidised and until now there is
no indication that they will face structural changes.
The unions have always argued against draconian measures but there is
no future for public subsidies here.
This Task Force initiative provides a ray of hope, there is general
consensus that these reforms must bear fruit.