23 JANUARY 2002

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Be firm, is what we ask Nothing more, nothing less

The press is called to report on the presentation of 61 amendments by the GWU to the Social Policy minister. But to the consternation of journalists present, the amendments are not revealed.

One can only imagine what they could spell out.

This is what happened when the General Workers’ Union-led Tony Zarb visited Lawrence Gonzi with the alleged amendments, the contents of which remain unknown to us all.

We said last week that we were very disappointed when the Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami backtracked over sympathy strikes. He had no reason to do so. But he did.

The imposition of sympathy strikes is brutally unfair to companies uninvolved in trade disputes, and is no longer tolerated in those countries which have a genuine concern for a smooth-running economy.

Take Britain for starters, where trade disputes have been redefined to everyone’s benefit.

The union’s short-term interest is to safeguard the interests of its members, irrespective of the growth rate in the economy.

And worse still the leaders in the unions are more concerned about sustaining their strong position in their respective posts. In doing so, they are usually, but not always, irrational and mostly concerned about their immediate interests.

Therefore, the statement, noted loud and clear by Lawrence Gonzi, that this was a year for decisions, was welcomed and applauded.

Such a statement is a reflection of a self-made decision by government, or better still, the Cabinet of ministers.

This is how it should be.

If the General Workers’ Union is in a mood to stir up trouble, then the government must show resolve.

This country will be a facing some very serious hurdles in the near future: namely the European Union question and the global economic slowdown.

The union has one clear agenda, to create as many sleeping policemen as is possible.

But this cannot be tolerated and the government must stand firm and say no. It must turn to the public for support. It must spell out its proposals and stop dilly-dallying about a flexible approach to the conditions of work and the future of industrial relations. It must remain tough on what it wants and where it wants to go.

The constituted bodies have until very recently been rather mute about the whole matter. They must raise their voices. The GRTU, The Malta Employers Association the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Industry should take a leading role in supplanting the lack of assertiveness existent in government.

Dr Gonzi’s statement is a first step to taking a stand. He will find the support of this leader and of those involved in promoting their business concerns and interests.

Sooner rather than later, everyone must realise that the rules of engagement must work to ensure competition and success. This can only be accomplished by working practices undergoing a culture change and work ethics inculcated in every strata of our working society.


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