24 JULY 2002
The no-contest for the post of deputy secretary general of the General Workers Union, vacated by Mario Cutajar earlier this month, is being viewed by outsiders as an attempt to quell the turbulence that has hounded the union for the past few weeks.
Mario Cutajars resignation from the post of deputy secretary general came as a bolt in the blue. His departure coupled with the continuous leakage of unpublished EU reports commissioned by the GWU, which portray a favourable picture on EU membership have sent the union in panic mode.
For the past two weeks the unions Sunday newspaper It-Torca has dedicated substantial space to Tony Zarbs comments in which he rebuts the information being leaked in other sections of the press about the GWUs decision to oppose EU membership.
The daily l-Orizzont is also publishing the results of a scientific survey that the union supposedly conducted among its members about EU membership. The survey results portray overwhelming opposition to membership. As yet the union has not published the survey itself outlining when it was conducted, what methodology was used to select the sample, whether the results are weighted and what is the margin of error.
Sources told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the union could not afford to face a contest for the vacated post. Manwel Micallef, who heads the strategic Port and Transport section, was nominated by none other than Drydocks section secretary Tony Coleiro.
Contacted by this newspaper Mr Coleiro said that despite being tipped by the media as a likely contestant for the vacated post, he decided to nominate Mr Micallef because it was "for the unions good."
Mr Coleiro explained that he could not abandon the drydocks workers given the delicate patch the yards are passing through.
"The Drydocks is passing through difficult times with all the declarations by the prime minister and the deputy prime minister that the Yards need to lose more workers. I felt that in these circumstances it would not have been correct for me to abandon the drydocks workers," Mr Coleiro told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, with no contestants Manwel Micallef is expected to be approved unanimously in the post of deputy secretary general. Mr Micallef had been appointed section secretary in October 1999 after the resignation of Ronnie Pellegrini.