30 JANUARY 2002
Mr Tony Coleiro is a strange kind of guy. To be honest, without him the world would be rather more boring.
Mr Coleiro is not very enthusiastic about restructuring the dockyard. Or else to put it in different words, he believes that the dockyard is the cradle of civilisation and should remain as is. He is an old militant who will probably stand as a Labour candidate in the next election.
Mr Coleiro could not give two hoots if it is our taxes that supplement the salaries of so many workers at the docks.
The retirement scheme for dockyard workers is kind and thoughtful. It is typical of a country that is unable to clamp down on black labour, a tradition held in high esteem by many dockyard workers.
And of a country in no position to control tax evasion, a habit idolised by a number of our self-employed in Malta and Gozo.
And yet we continue to applaud the siphoning off of public monies to sustain an early retirement scheme.
So when Mr Coleiro, the General Workers Union representative at the dockyard, chose to suggest that the dockyard needed to hold on to the workers to safeguard the future of the yard, we were unsure whether to laugh or cry.
This small nation supports various entities, which are non-profit making and a burden on the tax payer. The Malta Drydocks and Shipbuilding are not the only places soaking up public funds.
There are other companies that need a very serious talking to.
The executives in many of these companies are over-paid and worse still unaccountable.
The General Workers Union should not tolerate Mr Coleiro. He is a spoke in their wheel and is only useful in the short term.
The union is in an optimum position to realise that it is in the interest of this country and its members to support a retirement scheme.
Should this scheme fail then no one should blame the government if the next step will mean the closure of the docks.
A good decision after all
The decision to participate in the convention for restructuring Europe is to be lauded. The Labour party must know that this unique event is not aimed at dismantling the European Union but strengthening it.
It is an opportunity for Labours leadership to understand the meaning of Europe, not through the eyes of Alfred Sant, but through the eyes of other interlocutors.
Dr Sants contribution in parliament was more than interesting; in his speech he outlined the history of Europe and even praised the meaning of the European Union. He pointed to extracts from the MLPs quest to make Malta more Maltese.
Then he concerned himself with hitting out at his usual targets and some new ones too.
Finally, he returned to the subject of the convention and let it be known that Labour would be participating after all.
Alfred Sant has landed himself in a catch 22 situation. By staying out he would have provided ammunition for those who accuse him of cultivating insularity and by being part of the convention he is accepting the reality of Europe.