The Future of Our Unions
It is being constantly repeated that the Unions in Malta made history when on Friday 14th November 2008 they joined forces and held a protest march in our Capital. The protest as a united front may be considered as historical as we never witnessed the two major trade union representatives in our island holding tight together to a banner and marching in the streets. But this is only part of history as almost three years ago the Unions wrote another historical episode, that of gathering together around a negotiating table and discussing for lengthy hours the possibility of drafting a social pact that would be respected by all Unions and Government. Unfortunately after hours of discussions on end no such agreement was reached and from then on all Unions went back to their usual different paths and tactics.
So to get the historical event straight the protest march of the 14th November must be considered as a second attempt to bring the Maltese Unions together and the possibility that a Trade Union Council (TUC) be established.
History of the relationship of our two major trade unions namely the GWU and the UHM is not that rosy for any worker to start hoping for such an accomplishment. When the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions (CMTU) was set up in 1959 the aim was to get all Unions together but the GWU refused to join. To add insult to injury when the CMTU called its first national strike in 1984 the GWU refused to participate and encouraged its members to consider the day as business as usual. During the last years the GWU expressed its intention to get all Unions united and agree on a social pact. An intention that did not materialise as this time round it was the UHM who could not get into agreement.
It seems that now the Unions may want to grab the bull by its horns and hopefully realise that as long as the workers representatives have a common objective the path chosen to accomplish that objective is the only bone of contention. This is why a TUC is the ideal way forward for our Unions to consolidate their trust from their members. Unfortunately workers are not that optimistic as we all are well aware that the element of bio polarity between the large Unions is still a dominant factor. If our Unions unite and no political agenda is behind the measures or actions taken then it is not only workers that benefit but also the whole country in general. Healthy discussions with sound solutions are the only way forward and all stand to gain.
A TUC must go down well with the present administration as there will be less hours lost in disputes and more fruitful measures agreed upon. Our country needs to maintain a stable political environment as we all know that economic turbulences are blowing strong around us. I am in favour of the formation of a TUC and hope that such council will liaise with the Government as this will reinforce the Nationalist Party slogan ‘Together everything is possible’.