The first bangs of the year
The first bang of the year was the reaction by the unions to the latest
proposals related to industrial relations.
The bone of contention lies in the interpretation of a trade dispute.
The proposals redimension the meaning of a dispute.
Unsurprisingly, the unions have jumped at the suggestion that sympathy
strikes are no longer part of the game. Neither have they been very
happy with extending the list of essential services.
The decision to erase sympathy strikes comes after a series of experiences
spanning over the last fifteen-years which have seen this small nation
experience a number of industrial strikes. This has led to the paralysis
or semi-paralysis of main arteries of the economy. The port, the airport
and others are some prime examples. The main culprits have been union
leaders or their lieutenants who have acted with impunity.
The unions have pointed out to Dr Lawrence Gonzi that the there was
no such agreement at the MCSD on these points.
The issue is bound to enrapture the media. Clashes with the unions are
not a one-off.
Sympathy strikes allow unions to kick any private enterprise or government
in the groin.
When one employer attempts to reform or change conditions of work, he
is guaranteed all sorts of opposition from the unions. But the worst
comes when an employer with no dispute with his employees suffers the
full brunt of the unions.
This is unfair.
This country has a very rigid industrial relations framework, but a
flimsy work ethic.
The unions always talk of acting in a sensible and mature manner but
when it comes to the crunch, they come nowhere close to this.
Another storm in a teacup
With this trouble brewing in industrial relations we were faced with
yet another teething problem. The resignation of Anthony Galdes as Chairman
of the Commission for National Welfare Reform was reported with much
prominence and spin last Monday. This led Leo Brincat to rush over to
his PC and add fuel to the fire by saying this was proof of the internal
divisions between the two contenders for the leadership of the PN.
Hogwash would be a good way of describing this comment.
But nevertheless the resignation of Galdes, brutally implanted in a
daily newspaper by a journalist known for his motives, does raise some
The first point is that government should stop abdicating its right
to govern and stop believing that a commission is the answer to everything.
The second point is that welfare reform needs to be tackled at once.
The budgetary proposals in Mr John Dallis speech point to a direction
to welfare reform. It was obvious that the government had long given
up hope that the Welfare commission was coming up with a blueprint for
This was to be expected considering the fact that the commission was
made up of several members from the unions whose commitment lies
with their members and not the future of the country.
This country needs pension reforms fast and the steps needed to see
this reform through will not be easy. It will include private pensions
and extending the pension age. It is the government that must take the
bull by its horns and not any commission.
Let this be clear to all.