Leave the patients out of it

Paul Pace should leave the patients out of it. Punishing them in the name of justified industrial action, would be simply criminal

MUMN boss Paul Pace
MUMN boss Paul Pace

The nurses’ union MUMN, led by Paul Pace, issued its own ultimatum for Monday for industrial action unless government cancels all mass events, and to grant nurses on quarantine leave all Sunday and feast allowances, meal allowances for healthcare workers at elderly homes and other institutions, compensation for healthcare workers on 12-hour shifts with an additional 12 hours of vacation leave, guaranteed child support for nurses if schools are closed again, and employment of all third-country nationals to address a current nursing shortage.

Pace warned that failure to accede to these demands will lead to industrial actions that will start from tomorrow (Monday). And this will mean that nurses will be instructed not to wash patients, not to help patients to an armchair from a bed and vice-versa, not to accompany patients to X-rays and theatres, and restrictions on the paperwork that nurses have to fill.

Physiotherapists have also been instructed not to see more than three patients face to face per day and no new patients will be seen and home visits will not be carried out. ECG technicians will not carry out ECGs ordered through the outpatients’ departments. The MUMN also decreed that four theatres at Mater Dei are to be used for emergency purposes only and all elective surgery is to be stopped or done without any nurses. And finally, no bloodletting and no plastering will be carried out at primary healthcare centres.

Now Paul Pace is replicating the spirit of other union leaders who think that they have the right to put pressure on government by placing hundreds of sick and ailing patients in more suffering and misery.

Government’s ill-thought-out decision to open mass events has been revisited; but Paul Pace is clear that he will use his muscle and put patients through

misery to move government policy. All this can be made possible, according to Pace, at the expense of sick patients. So patients who are immobile, suffering from bedsores, incontinent, and so much more, will be pawns in the hands of a man who thinks he has some God-given right to play roulette with a patient’s life.

Had I not worked in hospital for three years of my life, apart from spending the last years visiting so many relatives who were seriously sick, I could be spared for speaking up. There are some very many dedicated nurses and some very conscientious paramedics but there are also those who are not. Paul Pace knows that an identifiable group of younger nurses and paramedics have been active participants in mass social events: they cared little for social distancing and took risks which are unacceptable to the requirements of their job. The same applies to some individuals who are care workers and other related professions.

And yet Paul Pace has not a word to say for this irresponsible behaviour. If Pace wants to start a war with Chris Fearne and Robert Abela he is free to do so. He is definitely right about mass events. But he should leave the patients out of it. Punishing them in the name of justified industrial action, would be simply criminal.

Air Malta

Apart from Paul Pace’s industrial action threat, ALPA announced that they will commence industrial action because discussions on their collective agreement have been stalled.

Every union has a person at the top who suffers from delusions of grandeur. In the case of ALPA that man is Dominic Azzopardi. Like Pace, Azzopardi also suffers from a bad bout of self-entitlement and is in serious need of a reality check. With very small numbers of travellers, airlines at breaking point and an economy in free- fall, Azzopardi thinks it is wise to talk of a collective agreement review. This, the same man who would not accept that all the Air Malta pilots stay on board at a reduced wage during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Somehow, it appears that no one has pointed out to ALPA members what is happening abroad. In April, British Airways announced it would cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce due to the coronavirus’ devastating impact on the travel industry. Low-cost airline EasyJet said 30% of its workforce would be slashed, which amounts to around 4,500 jobs. Virgin Atlantic announced it will cut more than 3,000 jobs in the UK and end its operations at Gatwick Airport. Budget airline Ryanair said it would cut 15% of its workforce globally - around 3,000 jobs. German airline Lufthansa said it would cut 22,000 jobs due to travel disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Scandinavia Airlines (SAS) part-owned by Sweden and Denmark, said a potential reduction of the workforce would be split with approximately 1,900 positions in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway and 1,700 in Denmark.

I could go on – even airlines owned by super-rich nations such as Qatar and Emirates have made their cuts.

My question is very simple. Are unions like ALPA even in touch with reality? The economic crisis we are in is only going to get worse, not better. Making demands which can never be met will only make things worse for everyone.

The PN epidemic

As the government handles its own problems with no easy solution in sight, the PN enters its worst period ever.

Adrian Delia has implored councillors who will vote on the way ahead, that he has sacrificed everything and should be given a chance.

However, though he may be right in claiming that he has really given all to the party, there is little doubt that he has no chance in his lifetime or another to take the PN beyond the front lobby of the party’s HQ. And even that seems to be an impossible challenge with the feuding between his heavies and rebel MPs.

Delia’s obsession to stay on at all costs will only continue to damage the party. He hangs on for reasons known only to him, which can only be interpreted as an obsession not to give in to pressure.

The fear is that when this civil war comes to an end, it could very well be that the PN will not be able to stand on its own two feet ever again.