Dockers warned against revival of port services’ liberalisation

Malta Freeport Terminal chief executive Alex Montebello announces details of Ocean-3 agreement that will see major shipping companies discharge their cargo in Malta's Freeport. 

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has pledged his party's support to dock workers, in an address he made to the Malta Dockers Union's general assembly.

Busuttil praised the MDU for its continued autonomy from politics and its continued work in the interest of its members, including the training of its members. The MDU was formed after splitting from the General Workers Union at the time of the liberalisation of port services in Valletta.

The PN leader warned that Malta's falling industrial production and import and export trade - the worst in Europe, according to Eurostat - would impact dock workers as well as factory workers.

As an MEP in Brussels, Busuttil said he had voted twice against a proposed law that would liberalize port services because, he said, it would go against the interests of dock workers.  "The MDU should prepare itself in case the law gets proposed again," Busuttil warned. 

"The Nationalist Party wants to become closer to the MDU," Busuttil told the assembly. "We are willing to help you with training issues and with other difficulties you might encounter." 

Transport minister Joe Mizzi also addressed the assembly. "The government has the security of dock workers at heart," he said. "And it will continue safeguarding workers' rights... Any changes will happen only after serious discussion with the union."

Alex Montebello, CEO of the Freeport Terminal, announced details of the new 'Ocean 3' alliance between shipping companies United Arab Shipping Co (UASC), CMA CGM and China Shipping. 

According to the agreement, large ships who enter the Mediterranean from the Far East will discharge their containers in the Freeport in Malta and smaller boats will then pick up their cargo from the Freeport and carry them to their destinations. This agreement will start operating as from 2015. Montebello also said that the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the second largest container shipping company in the world, will start making use of Malta's Freeport. 

This arrangement was possible, Montebello said, thanks to the almost €200 million in private investment in the Freeport terminal, which will also include the provision of a new training centre for workers.

More in Business News