Drydocks golden handshake
- Drydocks, Government should have integrated workers
into private sector
dismantling and subsequent restructuring of the Malta Drydocks and its
sister yards into two unlikely siblings the Malta Shipyards
Ltd (MSL), and the Industrial Projects and Services Ltd (IPSL)
has not won over the employers of the private sectors.
While the most gifted of the new progeny is certainly MSL,
which will be taking in first-choice workers to continue the work of
the docks and the yards in its newly restructured and efficient
framework, it is certainly the IPSL which comes across as the doltish
and least-endowed of offspring.
Created as a surrogate entity for the surplus 900 workers of the Malta
Drydocks and Malta Shipbuilding, the IPSLs employees will be offered
early retirement and voluntary redundancy schemes.
The agreement brokered by the Ministry of Social Policy and the General
Workers Union has so far seen no grand applause from the business
community, who fear once again the echoes of a white elephant and so
much government money going to waste.
By far the most critical is the Federation of Industrys president
Anton Borg, who told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday
that a chance to integrate the 900 surplus workers into the private
sector might have been achieved without the need of a golden handshake:
"As the Federation of Industry we agree that the shipyards need
restructuring. What we dont agree with is that whilst retirement
schemes have been discussed, there have been no discussions on how these
workers will be integrated into the private sector. Basically what has
happened here is that the day after these workers are given their golden
handshakes, they will be back to work in the private sector the next
"Once again, this is another golden handshake because there was
no discussion on how to integrate these workers in the private sector,
which is the productive sector this country needs."
Accordingly, the new agreement proposes four early retirement schemes:
a retirement scheme on a two-thirds pension for those aged 56 and over;
15 weeks pay for every year to those aged between 50 and 55, with
option for a two-thirds pension when they reach 56; those aged between
40 and 49 will be offered an ex-gratia payment equivalent to 3.25 times
their current basic salary, capped at Lm17,000; those under 40 will
be offered eight weeks pay for every year of service capped at
Lm12,000 for those with more than 15 years service or Lm10,000 with
less, with a minimum of Lm5,000.
The schemes are expected to cost the government over Lm7 million. Around
Lm310 million in debt will be written off by the government.
Malta Employers Association president Paul Debattista hopes that
the new IPSL company will turn out to be productive: "If this can
be a productive and self-financed company that generates revenue than
it can only be positive. I hope there will be generous enough work for
this company for it to be viable enough."
But he has his own reservations: "However, if it is simply a measure
that reduces the Yards expenses on paper, which instead props
up an unproductive entity, then we certainly dont agree with it.
Ideally there should have been enough time given for these people to
find jobs within the private sector, but this process never happened."