30 APRIL 2003

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Toon 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 Malta’s 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 Union’s rigid stand opposing the EU and Zarb’s reluctance to show even the Union commissioned reports on the impacts of EU membership to members of the Union.
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 today’s 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. Malta’s 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.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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