21 September 2005

The Web

Zarb sticks to his guns as GWU president accepts termination benefit

James Debono

The 12 Interprint employees who until yesterday were resisting government’s offer to receive termination benefits in order to press their case for alternative employment have finally accepted the generous payment, The Malta Financial and Business Times has learnt.
The cheques amounting to an average of Lm15,000 each were distributed to the redundant employees on Monday. GWU President Salvu Sammut, an Interprint employee, also received his cheque amounting to around Lm20,000.
The redundancy of the Interprint employees sparked the GWU’s campaign against what it described as the government’s guillotine policy.
At one time the GWU had even threatened solidarity strikes in the private sector in its bid to secure alternative employment for these workers.
But GWU’s Secretary General Tony Zarb yesterday insisted that the union will persist with its campaign, which “is not limited to the situation of the Interprint workers.”
The GWU chief, who will be challenged for the union’s top post in the coming October general conference, said that despite accepting the benefits, the 12 Interprint workers can still revert to the alternative employment option.
Zarb also announced that a mediator “is currently in Malta” to bridge the gap between the union and the government on this issue.

Although Tony Zarb is still adamant on insisting on the Interprint workers’ right for alternative employment, it turns out that the President of the GWU Salvu Sammut has accepted government’s offer.
Tony Zarb insisted that the union’s president accepted the termination benefit because he is an Interprint employee.
But in an interview with sister newspaper MaltaToday Tony Zarb contends that the agreement with these workers does not signify the end of the GWU anti-guillotine campaign.
Zarb insisted that by accepting termination benefits, the workers in question have not given up their right for an alternative job.
“As a union we have not yet accepted the offer of termination benefits for Interprint employees. We are still insisting on finding a solution with the government on this issue. I am sure that the workers who have accepted a termination benefit would be ready to give up the termination benefit if offered an alternative job. I am sure we can revert to such a situation even if these workers have for now accepted termination benefits.”
Zarb also criticised those claiming that the whole campaign was orchestrated as part of his electoral campaign for the post of general secretary.
Tony Zarb excluded that the anti guillotine campaign had anything to do with his prospects for re-election as the GWU’s leader, claiming that this was merely part of the Nationalist Party’s campaign to denigrate him.
“I was simply doing my work as GWU general secretary. Nobody can expect to stop my work because the PN and their allies chose to attack me.”
In a wide ranging and exclusive interview, which will be published in next Sunday’s edition of MaltaToday a confident Tony Zarb states that he is certain of winning the upcoming contest with Manwel Micallef.
Zarb also presents his “back to the roots” vision for the general workers union for the next years.



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