Sociologist from Malta

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Shipyards Issue

Alternattiva Demokratika believes that all workers have the right to work. Work is one of the most important family values and gives dignity to the human being. It is therefore ironic that Shipyard workers, whose productive skills are an essential resource for our country, are being treated as mere numbers by a Government which speaks so much about family values and work!

Last Wednesday I attended the GWU demonstration on the Shipyards issue . Tempers were high, and some statements were out of place, surely not helping the situation. Yet, the bottom line is that workers have been deceived by the Government and are being treated in a degrading way. Workers are not numbers!

Alternattiva Demokratika will be asking the European Commission if the government can terminate the shipyards workers' job before the enterprise is privatised. We shall be asking if a merger or a takeover were reasons enough to terminate the jobs.

In the meantime, AD’s position on the Shipyards is the following:

1. It is ironic that whilst Government is speaking about the contribution of ageing workers to society, the same government is aiming to dispose of such workers through retirement schemes;

2. Scientific economic and sociological studies should show the true situation at Shipyards, including the actual number of workers required in order that the company may be viable;

3. If such studies show that workers are surplus to the Shipyards' requirements they can be involved in productive jobs such as those concerned with the creation of alternative energy sources or, alternatively for technical work with local councils, parastatal companies or other governmental agencies;

4. The State also has an important role to play in the provision of retraining schemes were necessary;

.5. All Shipyard workers should be in productive employment. Whilst AD is not against retirement schemes and whilst AD believes that these should be available for those who need them, at the same time AD emphasises that those who do not remain with Malta Shipyards should be re-engaged in productive ways by both the public and private sectors;

6. AD urges Government and the GWU to work hand in hand so as to create proactive solutions to ensure that all workers are in employment. We are appealing to both sides to sit around the table and reach an agreement. A mediator who enjoyed the trust of both sides should be nominated.


Red said...

Excellent post! I believe that the State could always make it possible for a person to work somewhere. If it is true that there are "surplus" employees at the Malta Shipyards, I strongly believe that the government should help to transfer these to other places rather than offering them retirement schemes.

I think that it is also interesting to ask oneself: why is it that only a private company would be able to solve the Malta Shipyards problem? Some might say that a private company would have more money to invest in various projects. Is this really so? I mean, so much government money is said to be spent on trivial matters every year...isn't it possible for the government to spend its money in a better way? Furthermore, assuming that there are way too many employees at the Malta Shipyards, why can't the government simply transfer some whilst still retaining control of the shipyards??

The saddest thing in all this is that every time a state-owned company is sold, the more power is being given to a handful of ultra-rich people while the government becomes increasingly poorer and a pawn in the hands of private companies. Of course, these points are barely ever mentioned in the local capitalist media so that public opinion is won in favour of the privatisation process, but I hope that the Maltese people can start being shown the other side of the coin...

Joseph Caruana said...

I released and article with ADZ expressing what I thin is happening around the Drydocks. If you have time read it mike.