|LETTERS | Sunday, 30 March 2008
Why I am contesting for the post of MUT President
By Anthony Micallef Debono
I joined the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) in 1972 when I was still a student at the St Michael College of Education at Ta’ Giorni studying to become a teacher. Those were happy days for all my fellow students and myself. The De La Salle Brothers running the College inspired all of us with a sense of dedication to the wonderful world of being a teacher. They also inculcated in us the need for the teaching profession to be organized in a trade union. I remember as if it was yesterday Bro Edmond lecturing us on the Trade Unions representing different teaching grades and his insistence that all these Unions should unite. Thanks to the strong direction of the MUT leaders of the time this today is a reality.
I soon became an active member and in a few years time I was a School Delegate. It was very demanding work but at the same time very satisfying. An MUT delegate plays a vital role in the running of a school especially when the head of school appreciates this beneficial human resource. Many problems are solved at school level without the Union having to make official representation with the authorities and thus a school can operate very smoothly.
I eventually got elected on the MUT Council and served three terms. During this period I occupied various posts including Assistant General Secretary and International Secretary. I also contributed to the setting of the MUT Language School. I was later appointed General Secretary of the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions (CMTU).
Over the years I have gained lots of valuable experience both as an educator and as a Trade Unionist. I represented MUT and CMTU at numerous local and international Conferences and organisations including the Malta Council for Economic and Social Dialogue (MCESD), European Union Social Dialogue Committee, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Executive Committee, ETUC Social Protection Committee, Secretary of the joint Maltese Trade Unions negotiating team during the Social Pact discussions and CMTU Reform Commission. I was also part of the ETUC Negotiating Team on the setting part of the European Framework Agreement on Violence at the Place of Work and Maltese workers’ representative on the implementation of the EU Framework Agreement on Telework. I was also alternative member of the European Social Fund and the Dublin Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions.
This experience has exposed me to realities being faced by Trade Unions in the modern world and the need for reform. Many European Trade Unionists argue that in order to survive, trade unions must adapt or re-shape their traditional roles so as to render themselves more relevant to present and future working conditions. While so doing they have to be very careful to remaining faithful to their special vocation which is that of defending and promoting their members’ interests on the basis of human rights and social justice. These goals may be achieved for MUT through the positive involvement and active participation at the grass roots of School Delegates in all the decisions affecting their members rather than through reactions to decisions which have already been taken by others. In order to achieve this a much bigger investment, including EU funded training programmes, is needed for the training and formation of effective School delegates.
Members should feel that they are being listened to. Members should not feel that Union officials are distant from the reality of the school and the classroom. For this reason I feel that Union officials should return to school duties after completing a maximum number of terms so as not to run the risk of turning into Union bureaucrats jealously safeguarding their position. This period will surely have served them well and they can then continue with their teaching career.
I strongly believe that all people working in education should form part of the MUT. As professionals we should feel the need to belong to a professional body which plays a significant national and European role.
We in the Education Sector are living very exciting times. The reform being implemented in education will surely bring great benefits not only to all our children but to the country in general. The Agreement signed recently between the Government and MUT was meant to facilitate this Reform. Many members are unhappy with this Agreement for various reasons. They feel they have been let down by their Union and argue that they should have been consulted before the Agreement was signed. Contrary to the practice of other Unions, both Maltese and more so European ones, the present MUT Statute does not allow for this kind of arrangement as it is the MUT Council which finally accepts or rejects an agreement. An early review of the recent Government-MUT agreement on Teaching Grades is a must especially in the light of the recent anomalies caused by the agreements with the Medical related Unions. Any matters open to interpretation in the present agreement should be settled once and for all. Such an addendum should ensure a fair deal for all teaching grades. If elected this will be my number one priority.
I feel that I have the necessary qualities and experience to assume more responsibilities so as to make MUT more relevant to the present realities and sensitive to both the individual needs of its members and the country in general.
Yes to Partnership for Peace
I refer to your article in Malta Today of last Sunday relating to the Government’s decision to re-apply for Partnership for Peace.
While it is correct to state that the matter was not decided upon while I served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I fully concur with the decision of Government to re-apply for Partnership for Peace.
Joining Partnership for Peace gives greater credibility, and is a natural progression, to our EU membership providing Malta with the possibility of positive contribution in the way so ably demonstrated by Luxembourg over the years and by many other ‘smaller/medium-sized’ EU states including states which have a strong constitutional tradition of neutrality such as Ireland and Austria. As part of the European family we have to contribute in the same way (not necessarily to the same measure!) that we can expect to receive and therefore as partners working in unison with others. Partnership for Peace allows Malta to further increase its relevance in international politics and gives it greater weight in the EU.
In line with rejoining Partnership for Peace, in my opinion, the time has come for a serious unemotional debate to be carried out on Malta’s general relationship with NATO since, post-Cold War, this organisation has a changing collective security role also espoused by many non-member countries such as, for example, Russia and Algeria.
We need a full, serious debate of Malta’s long-term interests in a changing global milieu. While considering the continuing benefits of Malta being the ‘friendly face of Europe towards its southern neighbours’ and a ‘trusted interlocutor’ (as amplified in the Strategic Objectives of Malta’s Foreign Policy document), this debate should also extend to the passé terminology defining ‘neutrality’ in our Constitution.
A taste of a one-party state
Barely a few days have passed, that already the GonziPN government has shown of what mettle is made! In an almost secretive way, it concocted to reactivate the PfP. In an almost typically one-party state way, it informed us citizens of what it had decided in a short and dry statement. In an equally typical way reminiscent of a government of a banana republic in Central America, it decided so on the pushing of a non-elected guru acting on behalf of a foreign power! (MaltaToday, 23 March 2008)
I refer to an opinion written by the President of the Malta Union of Teachers last Sunday where he stated among other things that “the present situation in Malta does not augur well. The government needs to act now before it is too late to make the profession more attractive”.
Carmelo Abela MP (MLP)
The poisoned pen
The pen is mightier than the sword when its sheath contains the indelible ink of honesty and is guided by an unwavering true hand. When it is used to stab at the truth it becomes an insidious dagger.
Well, Daphne’s poison pen has certainly – but just barely – earned its keep! One wonders… will it now be put out to grass, seeing as it has achieved its purpose and Labour leader Alfred Sant has resigned? Or is it only in semi-retirement, awaiting the election of the new leader of the party? Will it then be employed once again, in renewed vengeance to spell its vitriolic spin? We can only wait and see!
Is this democracy?
What is the name of the game? Is it our idea of democracy?
Call fresh elections!
The electorate is confused and disgusted. Our Prime Minister is a gentleman but he has been duped by his own people. We have a minority government which is governing our country when the majority of the electorate opted against a Nationalist administration.
There is no faith in this administration despite a well-intentioned effort by the Prime Minister to put on an acceptable Cabinet. There is confusion within the Labour Party – the 48.7% who voted for the MLP under Dr Sant are disillusioned as their leader has immediately resigned and no one is aware as to who exactly is running the party or how the party is being currently administered.
Two smaller parties had their leaders call it a day in the footsteps of Dr Sant. What country is this, what leaders do we have, can the people have faith in our political system and the ingrained corruption that has become the symbol of the powerful in my country?
The JPO case no doubt is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg – resignations from MEPA only followed after they were exposed; thus these resignations in no way expurgate anyone. MEPA has long had its name discoloured by abuse and corruption. Other individuals believe they can do what they like in my country and political figures including a number of those recently elected are openly seen with these dubious characters.
Malta wastes time hounding persons like Norman Lowell only because he spoke his mind in what is constitutionally a free country; the real scoundrels and scallywags are still usurping precious land, abusing of the laws of our land, and even being elected to Parliament by a largely idiotic electorate who are manipulated and who cannot sift the wheat from the chaff.
This is the country, dear Prime Minister, that you are governing with the common people grumbling and annoyed but feel impotent to do anything. Let us get out of this mess with honour. Please call another general election, do not even convene parliament but do not resign.
Let us have a fair and clean election campaign where each divergent opinion will be given adequate space to voice its views and explain its objectives. Demand that the Broadcasting Authority immediately resign for the manner they treated the smaller fry with a mere five minutes airtime to expose them to ridicule.
Let us halt having a Mickey-Mouse country and get down to serious professionalism, a characteristic which is flagrantly lacking in our country where nepotism and back-scratching are the supreme command of each day. Long Live a clean Malta and let us go back to the polls for a just and not manipulated result, where voters will be truly free and hear each and every opinion before they go and vote!
Alpha Liberal Democratic Party, Valletta
The problem with Labour
Just a quick word: wasn’t it Freud who defined madness as doing the same thing exactly the same way over and over again and expecting a different result each and every time? Anna – I don’t know you from a bar of soap. But my heart bleeds for you and all the passionate and well-meaning Labour supporters. Nothing could be more obvious with what is rotten in the MLP right now than watching last week’s Bondiplus. The ill-bred few ruling over the decent and well-mannered many.
Car tax changes
I would like to first of all congratulate Mr Tonio Fenech not only for his appointment as Minister of Finance but also, together with our Prime Minister, for successfully steering our country ever closer to the European fold, both in political and economic matters.
Dr Albert Bezzina
Donations for charity
On the 5 July 2007, an appointment was made with the archbishop of Malta, Mgr Pawl Cremona O.P. during which he was personally informed about the details referred to in the letter to the Editor entitled “Money donated to Charity” published on Sunday 23 March, 2008. In fact he was supplied with all the details including those of the persons concerned. He was also supplied with all the relative documents.
The Dwejra monstrosity
During my annual visit to Gozo last year I went as I always do to Dwejra. I took a friend and her little boy and amongst other things I hired one of the local boat owners to take us out for a run in his boat which the kid really enjoyed, almost as much as me.
James A. Tyrrell
Save Wied Garnaw Action Group turns four
In March 2008, the Save Wied Garnaw Action Group turned four!
The Group takes this opportunity to inform the friends of Wied Garnaw and of Malta’s countryside about the Group’s work, what it has achieved -- and also not achieved -- in these four years.
The Save Wied Garnaw Action Group has campaigned continuously to prevent the destruction of Wied Garnaw by industrial and other developments which should be sited in industrial estates not in valleys.
The Action Group has also lobbied strongly for better legislative protection and enforcement of the law so as to save all Malta’s countryside, the outside development zone (ODZ). The Action Group members have sacrificed time and money towards this end but at least one takes satisfaction in seeing that the Group helped put ODZ areas in the national spotlight, it helped show MEPA’s inability to protect ODZ areas and the need for action to remedy this situation. To be constructive in its approach the Group also presented a brief of proposals to the Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment on how certain ODZ shortcomings may be remedied.
The Action Group’s pressure ensured that MEPA refuses an application for a permit to build four warehouses, and another application to build a residential complex and garages in Wied Garnaw.
The Group has also actively supported the following campaigns to oppose the building of: a tourist village and marina at Hondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo, a villa complex at Ramla l-Hamra, and bungalows and other structures on Ta’ Cenc cliffs.
Moreover, the Action Group’s pressure has ensured that MEPA twice refuses the application to build a plant to sort metal, tyres, wood, paper and other inorganic waste in Wied Garnaw. However, every victory consitutes only temporary respite, as ODZ applicants reapply if refused the first time round, and then appeal if refused twice. In fact, the waste sorting plant application is now stuck at the appeal stage. For over a year now, the Planning Appeals Board has been deferring this hearing.
The appeal process is riddled with bureaucratic inefficiencies and turns a blind eye at applicants’ evident attempts at protracting the process when the outcome does not look promising in their regard. This is because until the appeal is still underway, there is still hope that the appellant cracks the system in the end.
The appeal re the waste sorting plant has been deferred five times now. The fifth hearing was on 26th March 08, this Wednesday and has now been deferred to May 08, simply because the appellant didn’t bother to inform the PAB beforehand that the appellant wanted an MP to be questioned as part of the hearing.
Save Wied Garnaw Action Group members have attended these five hearings. In the process of attending hearings that get deffered, members waste their time without getting any compensation for it. But the PAB and the appellant’s architect have no incentive to stop deferments -- PAB members and the apellant’s architect get paid every time they attend a hearing. So these continued deferrments are often used to psychologically wear down the resistance made by ordinary citizens who cannot keeping taking leave from work, leave their family and fork out their time for free.
But, i believe that nobody can deny the writing on the wall any longer -- most Maltese people do not want these bureaucratic and other abuses in the development planning system. Most Maltese people want a MEPA that promotes sustainable development and respects not only those who can pay architects and lawyers, or who have party political contacts, but a MEPA that respects every law-abiding ordinary citizen. Because this requirement is at the basis of a true democracy - all should be equal in the eyes of the law.
The Save Wied Garnaw Action Group wishes to thank all those of you who have shown support to Malta’s countryside and to the Group’s efforts. The Group would be very happy to receive your comments, suggestions and feedback, by email or by post.
With best wishes for a green, beautiful and healthy Malta,
Save Wied Garnaw Action Group
Drag racing for Eden
The Malta Drag Racing Association, Motordrome and Deejay Banana in collaboration of The Eden Foundation will be orginising the MDRA for Eden, a huge event in aid of The Eden Foundation. This event will be held on the 31st March 2008 at Hal far Raceway, Hal far.
What’s ‘Labour’ about Alfred Mifsud?
I read and agree with many of Mr Alfred Mifsud’s views and suggestions, although I do not see any Labour or socialist beliefs in these ideas and suggestions.
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