22 JANUARY 2003

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FOI appeals to political parties not to destabilise industry

The Malta Federation of Industry yesterday noted with disappointment repeated remarks, of a scare-mongering nature, by the leaders of both major political parties that can only destabilise industry and jeopardise its current and future operation.

Last week the FOI issued a clear statement saying that it did not know of any factories planning to close down whether Malta decided in favour of, or against, joining the EU. The Federation clearly said that industry would stay in Malta if it retained duty free access to its markets, if the country does not lose its competitiveness any further, if it strengthened its public finances without increasing taxation, and if it produced the right calibre of human resources that will enable enterprise to meet future challenges.

It is evident that this appeal has been ignored and now the Leader of the Malta Labour Party has taken upon himself the responsibility of naming seven private industrial concerns who in his opinion would be hard-hit by EU membership. He also advised the employees of these companies to ask their employers and trade unions about the repercussions of EU membership on their employment.

The FOI explains, "Such declarations can only cast doubts in the minds of workers about the future of their workplace. This is disturbing to serious industrial concerns who are investing further and would rather see their employees rallying solidly behind their management and facing the challenges that accompany change than be scared into inaction or panic, or worse changing jobs.

"After all, change is happening independently of the EU membership issue, and industry has to face it squarely – as it does continuously. Some of the firms that have been indicated by the Leader of the Malta Labour Party as possibly having problems with EU membership have publicly clarified such declarations and have indicated that they are investing even more and do not intend to shed jobs. These press comments by industry were necessary to re-assure the workers of the determination of their employers to face changing circumstances. Moreover, the enterprises involved in this controversy felt the need to make public their assurances about the viability of their business to the financial institutions that are making funds available for restructuring to them, as well as to their other business partners – their clients, creditors and suppliers."

The Federation appealed to politicians from both sides not to jeopardise industry’s efforts to restructure, to be able to face liberalisation of markets and the uncertainties of the world economy.

The FOI also advised both political parties to concentrate their efforts on giving assurance to industry that they are committed to move ahead with the necessary reforms on the home front that will make all the difference between allowing industry to compete or not, and to assure enterprise and their workers alike of their determination to make this country competitive not simply by nice declarations but by solid plans and timely action.


Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
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