In a statement issued by Minister Tonio Fenech last Thursday, the government has showed us that he’s adamant in throwing the dice for the same game. It’s funny, coming to think of it, because he never seems to be tired of it, not even after 20 years. Some of them call it politics; I see it as a personal chess game where the Government is the king who’s disguised in the robes of a pawn. On the other hand many columnists who reside in various Maltese gazettes prefer to use their hands to pen their articles, rather than their brains. The result is nothing but a mere echo in approval of the Government’s line of thought. The question would therefore be: Why did our fathers fight for a Charter of Fundamental Human Rights when the very basic rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Press are not exploited as they should? Why bother? I mean, not unless the new “speech” became synonymous for ‘parroting’ or the new “expression” for “libel”
Minister Fenech condemned the GWU for choosing the route of confrontation. What’s really wrong with these people, he must be wondering. Well, nothing actually, they were only promised that their jobs will be retained by a direct letter sent from the Ministerial before the election took place. They had to relax, because their occupations were to be “guaranteed”. What is possible wrong with not keeping those promises? Everyone knows that the yup yup before election should not be taken seriously, right? It makes sense to who says it but it’s a load of gibberish for those who listen to it. That load of gibberish is nothing really; it’s just our worker’s future followed by that of their families. Did I say families? I see an oxymoron here, a bitter one I’d say! Weren’t families the heart inside the PN’s election body? Happy and smiling families, which will now appear, on those billboards, with nothing more than a grim!
In this scenario, I think that it is better to have the government condemned for setting the worst timing ever for the privatization of the shipyards to take place. The Govt. was aware that the subsidies would have shrunk by 2008, however it chickened its way out and launched the retirement schemes just a few days ago. To spice up tragedy with a pinch of ridicule, the Government offered an incentive for those yards workers who choose to have the scheme before the end of September. If the Govt. ever wanted to be taken seriously in this matter he should have started to offer workers different options back in August ’07. Obviously, this did not happen, as the interests of a political party on the eve of the general elections, is much more important than the livelihood of 1700 workers having their minds set at rest. Coincidently, 1700 is a number that exceeds the amount of votes the party in power holds as a relative majority. I won’t go into the merits of destiny or faith but I know Mathematics to an appreciable extent and I can denote a pattern here, or even, a formula.
The equation for this one would be:
Keep workers happy + Guarantee their work position – Keep controversial details out = Election Jackpot.
I was there for the meeting held by the GWU on Wednesday 13th August. Mr. Zarb mentioned the possibility, one that put the ‘yards premises for speculative activity in the creation of luxurious apartments. Indirectly, Minister Fenech fed proof to what he might dub as an “allegation” when stating that “such confrontational and threatening behaviour [by the GWU] could only, at this stage, hinder the prospects of interest shown by potential operators” and also that “unless interest was shown by potential investors by September 15, it would have no option but to declare failure in the privatisation process and the yard would have to be declared bankrupt”. Instead of showing the huge assets, whether they’re equipment or skilled labour, that our ‘yards hold, the Govt. is devaluating the same entity which he is so eager to sell, by choosing the worst course possible. All I see is balance sheet of static numbers, treating some as assets and others as liabilities. The tragedy of it all is that, those numbers are not static; they represent the lives of our workers. It’s the reason why a human occupies the role of a Minister of Finance. If we wanted to talk in numbers, we would have assigned a talking machine to do the job.
GWU meeting in Paola was reported by Matthew Xuereb on Thursday. It left much to be desired; unfortunately, the most important statements uttered by the speakers remained unreported. One of them was that done by Paul Bugeja, who requested the Govt. to publish the yards’ accounts of these last 4 years; to check whether the ‘yards are bankrupt or not. Something, he said, that the government seems unwilling to show. Once again, the annoying strategy of a government who declares to be Christian and Democrat shows more clearly that the title is just a perception, totally opposite to the truth. One step forward in this direction and the Government’s actions are going to severely bite the hand that feeds it.
The perceived reality that ‘yards are there to suck the taxpayers’ money is spun by most of the columnists found in our isles. They would like to make us forget the pre-electoral direct orders given by the Government, which were reported on the 3rd and 10th day of this month by MaltaToday. The best way we could have dealt with the ‘yards should have been that of changing the management and its targets. It seems that making the ‘yards more productive and increasing the entity’s profits were never part of the real agenda. Unfortunately the aim of this Govt. was always that of hindering the workers’ unity. However, in my early years, I have learnt one but important law of Physics. It says “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. Indeed, such is true to life. The Government has the competence to act but we also have the duty to react. It is a right that cannot be threatened and it’s safeguarded by the GWU who is working on the prosperity of our workers.
A person is not an identity card, a number inside a balance sheet or a name in a file. Might as well keep that in mind before any other Minister decides to meddle with the simplicity of our worker’s lifestyle and forge a destructive formula of this sort.