Gonzi reports back to cabinet
on Drydocks dispute
By Kurt Sansone
No new developments were reported yesterday in the Drydocks controversy
as Social Policy Minister Lawrence Gonzi informed cabinet of the current
situation after Saturdays impasse with the General Workers
"Government is now studying the developments in a bid to take the
decisions that need to be taken," The Malta Financial and Business
Times was told yesterday by a ministry spokesman after the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet meeting was held in parliament rather than at Castille and
no public statement was issued after its conclusion. The media was not
informed of the meeting.
There was no contact between government and the GWU yesterday and no
meetings between the sides are scheduled for today. Meanwhile, the GWU
is expected to hold a rally for Drydocks workers tomorrow. The meeting
is expected to be followed closely by government as the outcome might
very well determine the future course of action to be taken.
The discussions between government and the GWU on the new collective
agreement hit a snag on Saturday when the union turned down governments
proposal to replace wage increases with performance related bonuses.
The ministry spokesman yesterday confirmed that it was
governments impression that GWU secretary general Tony Zarb had
misunderstood governments proposal.
"Government is not averse to sitting around the negotiating table
but it seems from media reports that Mr Zarb has interpreted wrongly
the proposal concerning performance bonuses and wage increases. Government
looks forward to explaining all," the ministry spokesman said.
On Saturday Dr Gonzi, who heads the Drydocks reform task force, proposed
that Drydocks wages remain at current levels with workers benefiting
from the customary cost of living increase rather than a wage increase
across the board determined by the collective agreement.
However, governments proposal also includes an efficiency increment
linked to the yards productivity and profitability.
Tony Zarb has gone on record describing the proposal as a wage freeze.
He has also warned that accepting a wage freeze at the Drydocks would
make it easier for government to implement a wage freeze in other public