EC warning on shipyard subsidies - Michael Briguglio

The Times of Malta, Thursday, 5th June 2008



The recent news regarding the future of Malta Shipyards and ST Microelectronics are of great concern. Thousands of jobs are at stake if these two companies close down or are downsized. Both companies employ workers of various skill levels, and the latter accounts for 60 per cent of Maltese industrial exports.

As regards Malta Shipyards, the Maltese government should take a tougher stance with the European Union, especially since various other shipyards in Europe benefit from aid from their respective governments through contracts for shipping fleets. The EU's neo-liberal position does not take account of the jobs of thousands of workers, when the same EU allows subsidies and direct payments for various areas such as aviation and military purposes. While sacrifices have to be made and productivity should be as high as possible, Malta Shipyards also needs bold steps such as increased diversification and the implementation of worthy proposals from the Appledore report.

Żminijietna - Voice of the Left urges the government to consult the European Steelworkers' Federation for practical advice on how to safeguard Malta Shipyards. The government should also seek to form alliances with those who are doing their utmost to defend shipyards in Poland which are receiving similar treatment from the EU. The latter include the United Left/Nordic Green Left European parliamentary group and the Polish government.

As regards STMicroelectronics, it should be noted that the intensification of capitalist globalisation is making things much more difficult for the company. Żminijietna supports the government in its attempts to keep the company in Malta. While being realistic and doing its utmost to safeguard the employment of workers, the government should not easily give in to the conditions imposed by ST.

In both cases, it is imperative for the government to work hand in hand with the General Workers' Union, which is doing its utmost to defend the livelihood of the workers employed by these companies.

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