The mess inside the MCESD

With the ‘Forum’ unions barred from getting in and the Employers Association boycotting it, the MCESD is in a veritable mess.

The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) describes itself as an advisory council that issues opinions and recommendations to the Maltese government on matters of economic and social relevance.

But just now there are a lot of misgivings regarding this Council, which many perceive as just a talking shop where people dish out their opinions without agreeing on anything.

I always thought that the MCESD is a forum for social dialogue and consultation and not a forum for negotiation with one side bargaining with the other. But at the moment the MCESD faces even more problems than the real point of its existence including a basic issue regarding its composition as a result of developments since it was established by law.

Since then, the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of industries (FOI) have merged and the new organisation now occupies two seats on this Council. On the employees’ front, the MUT has left the CMTU and joined a group of unions now co-operating as the ‘Forum’ unions. The GWU and the UHM and the CMTU each have a seat on the MCESD, but the CMTU – excluding the UHM – now represents only 5% of unionised workers while the Forum Unions, which are not on the MCESD, represent 13%.

Government refuses to correct this anomaly without the acquiescence of all the present members of the MCESD – a stance that pathetically attempts to shift its responsibility of ensuring a just representation to those that only care about preserving their ‘allotment’ in the existing arrangement. As if this was not enough, the Malta Employers association (MEA) has declared an official boycott of MCESD meetings.

This follows government’s decision to nominate the GRTU Director, Vince Farrugia, as an employer representative on the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The MEA argues that the GRTU does not represent employers but the self-employed and therefore, should not have been given a place in the EESC’s employers’ bloc. MEA general-director, Joe Farrugia, even accused government of using this nomination to make a personal favour to Vince Farrugia. The GRTU responded by accusing Farrugia of petty jealousy.

MEA described government’s decision as ‘arrogance’ and ‘undemocratic behaviour’ and declared it will not be participating in any social dialogue fora with the government until a solution is found. The MEA stance is also being supported of the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association (MHRA) who are, however, not on the MCESD.

I must admit that my sympathy on this one is with the MEA that claims that its members employ more than one-third of the labour force, which produces more than half the country’s GDP. Add the number of employees employed with MHRA members and one is left wondering how many employees are actually employed with GRTU members. The GRTU’s real membership figures are not in the public domain but the number of people who voted in the last GRTU Council elections was about 650 and this figure included ‘double votes’ by people owning more than one company of business venture.

To make things ‘curiouser and curiouser’ – as Alice in Wonderland would put it – Vince Farrugia was reported to have stormed out of an MCESD meeting last Saturday declaring ‘war’ on a draft bill that provides fro the setting-up of a consumer protection bill. This could have been, of course, simply a bit of theatrics to send the message that Vince Farrugia is no government puppet... To spice his ‘impulsive’ action, Farrugia accused government that it has reduced MCESD to a mere talking shop where things are simply brought forward after they are decided by government.

It does seem that the MSCESD is being used as a step-ladder to make it easier for some to reach what they perceive to be their potential! Moreover, the situation where government and Vince Farrugia scratch each other’s back, has now reached a ridiculous level and I suspect that wily old Vince is continually outfoxing the Gonzi administration by getting more than he is giving it. Any wonder that the MCESD is in a mess?

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Alfred Galea
Reverse Psychology....hound them so they keep on feeding you.
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This is but one example out of many of what happens when government objective shifts from pure and simple governance to power-retention
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Luke Camilleri
Maybe Vince Farrugia is no government puppet with his strings being pulled by Puppet Manipulators behind the scenes BUT he could just be the PUNCH glove puppet in a finely orchestrated Punch and Judy show with all his theatrics, being worn on the hands (not so firm) of the Prime Puppeteer who runs the show. One thing for sure Vince is certainly his own man, truly his own man , not the GRTU, not the MCESD and maybe not even Gonzipn's...as the mood takes him . A Prima Donna wanting his payback after contesting the MEP elections under the Gonzipn ticket.