this week: Tony-in-the-box
Zarb should explain his actions
People in public office are expected to take their responsibilities
seriously and although public servants often do not live up to expectations,
they can, in some instances, be held responsible for their actions.
GWU Secretary General Tony Zarb does not hold a public office but in
many ways his responsibilities are greater.
As the effective head of Maltas largest and most powerful workers
union, Zarb, or anyone in his position, has an important contribution
to make to the direction of the country.
The General Workers Union remains one of, if not the most important
social partners, responsible for the well-being of thousands of workers
but also involved in business Malta, making sure our economy remains
sustainable and ensuring democracy is upheld in the country, if not
in the workplace.
When people in high office decide to resign it is usually assumed there
are very serious reasons for doing so and there is no reason why the
public should not believe the same in the case of Tony Zarb.
The reasons for the resignation remain shrouded in mystery, with media
speculation that the resignation had to do with the Unions rigid
stand opposing the EU and Zarbs reluctance to show even the Union
commissioned reports on the impacts of EU membership to members of the
It was suggested, but never confirmed officially, that GWU section secretaries
threatened to bring Zarb down, but when it came to the crunch several
Union officials lobbied for Zarb to remain.
Zarb changed his mind merely a day after it was announced he would resign
and a vote was taken to confirm that mind change with several versions
of the vote being reported.
According to some sections of the press the vote was unanimous and by
acclamation, while others reported a vote of 35 in favour of Zarb regaining
his crown and seven against.
Zarb said he had changed his mind "in the interest of the organisation
and its members," but tongues have not stopped wagging.
Whatever it was that made Zarb resign and then change his mind remains
a matter that only the General Sectretary is aware of.
As far as the public is concerned, in an island that does not enjoy
a culture of resignation from public office, it can only be assumed
that the hidden reasons for the resignation were serious.
Since Zarb has decided he wants his seat back and has not yet provided
an explanation for his change of heart, the public can safely conclude
one of two truisms: Tony Zarb has something to hide and is not letting
on; or Tony Zarb was never serious about his resignation.
Both these alternatives are unacceptable in todays world, where
everybody is expected to be accountable for their actions. Tony Zarb
owes Malta an explanation and if he does not come up with one very soon,
his reputation will go down a notch or two.
His reputation, at this point however, is of little importance. The
GWU needs leaders that are clear in their actions and able to provide
good reason for them. Maltas workforce desires transparent and
responsible leadership. Should Zarb continue with a grey cloud roaming
above his head he risks people calling into question his future motives.
It would seem that although Malta is moving towards a more modern state
with proper administrative procedures, certain important figures are
not managing to break away from the good old Maltese tradition of remaining
stuck to their seats.