Letters: 20 March 2016

Fate of De La Rue employees

The General Workers’ Union regrets that MaltaToday chose to carry a story without even verifying the information obtained. This indicates that this story was solely intended to damage the GWU’s reputation and to disrupt its work for the benefit of its members and the whole workforce at De La Rue.

The story is built on inaccurate information, blatant lies, and false assumptions passed on by third parties, who clearly do not know the facts, or worse, chose to distort the facts.

The content of the story is totally inaccurate and tries to portray the GWU as having deceived its members when the journalist, Jurgen Balzan, alleged that the Union ‘secretly removed nine clauses from the collective agreement’ signed in 2013 between the GWU and the company.

The GWU strongly declares that the current collective agreement is that as approved by the members at De La Rue at a meeting held according to the Union’s procedures. Furthermore members of the group committee were present and took an active part in the negotiation about the mentioned collective agreement. The GWU is surprised by the fact that the journalist found it convenient to publish the views on this matter of another trade union, which does not enjoy industrial recognition at the company, but failed to obtain the GWU’s reaction to confirm his information. It was only after the story was published that the journalist sent his questions regarding the said story.

The GWU states that the number of 430 dismissals as published by MaltaToday is completely wrong. The company originally said that 400 jobs were to be lost from the printing section. But this didn’t mean that 400 workers were to lose their employment. The company was to retrain and redeploy 100 employees to work on new security printing products. During the negotiations held with the company, the GWU secured another 21 places of work that will be retained by the company. Thus the total amount of redundancy is around 280 employees.

The GWU, as already pledged to its members and workers at De La Rue, will strive to save more work places, and to find alternative employment for others. Right from the start of the negotiation process the GWU, through its various contacts, managed to locate a good number of alternative employment for those workers who are going to be affected by this restructuring that is compatible with their present skills and capabilities. In the coming months the GWU will continue to work to find alternative employment for the other workers involved as the restructuring at De La Rue progresses. 

The GWU strongly believes that the story as published was intended to cast doubts about the work done by the union. The GWU, while reserving the right to pursue legal procedures to protect its interest and those of its members, declares that such stories will not prevent it from continuing with its work for the benefit of its members at De La Rue.

Ivin Catania, General Workers Union

Coverage of Strickland property case

I refer to your report of March 13, 2016 of a court hearing in the case filed by Robert Hornyold-Strickland against Prof. J.M. Ganado as testamentary executor of the late Mabel Strickland and against The Strickland Foundation.

The report is selective and one-sided in that it gives only an account of the testimony of Hornyold Strickland and Deirdre Strickland whilst completely ignoring the evidence given by Victor Aquilina, a council member, in the same court hearing. 

In his testimony, Aquilina rebutted the unfounded, injurious and at times outright ridiculous claims made by Mr and Mrs Hornyold Strickland during their testimonies. 

Aquilina gave an account of how Mr and Mrs Hornyold Strickland over the past years employed various harassing means to effectively stop the Foundation from operating from its official seat, Villa Parisio.

In so doing, Mr and Mrs Hornyold Strickland are acting in direct violation of Ms Mabel Strickland’s will, which specifically states that the use and habitation of the guest rooms at Villa Parisio is subordinated to the condition that the enjoyment of such right shall in no way interfere with the work of the Foundation.

During his deposition, Aquilina stated the Foundation hosted scores of events including lectures, talks and seminars at the Villa. From its office within the Villa, the Foundation also set up an internship scheme for young journalists and considered and approved various requests for sponsorships. As a result, over the years, hundreds of people benefitted directly from the work of the Foundation. Through the actions of Mr and Mrs Hornyold Strickland, the Foundation found itself practically evicted from the Villa, a fact which is impacting greatly on the Foundation’s ability to deliver on its objectives.

For the sake of fairness, we expect your newspaper to obtain a court transcript of the evidence so that you will be able to give to your readers a balanced account of the court hearing.

Ronald Agius

Acting Chairman, The Strickland Foundation

Editorial note

For the sake of fairness and journalistic propriety, I suggest to Mr Agius that the Strickland Foundation sends over its own reporters from The Times, that esteemed publication founded by the late Ms Strickland, to cover the ongoing court case and inform its loyal readers of the arguments made by Strickland’s heirs and the Foundation. Their absence in a court case dealing with allegations that the Foundation usurped Ms Strickland’s heirs’ rights, does disservice to the values of journalism the Foundation claims to uphold.

Indeed it is a universal principle accepted within the trade, that the actual reporting of words and deeds in a court of law should ideally first take place by way of publication, before crying out ‘balance’ and ‘fairness’ and such other sanctimonious drivel from the Foundation’s arsenal of hot air.

Maybe Mr Agius could ask Dr Mario de Marco, one of the lawyers acting for the Foundation, to provide the court transcript himself and reproduce it in its entirety on an invention they call the world wide web.

Matthew Vella

Seeing ability, not the disability 

The 21st March is a special day for the Down Syndrome Association. On this day we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day – the 21st of the month representing the 21st chromosome and March (being the 3rd month of the year) representing the three copies, instead of two, of the 21st chromosome which Down syndrome persons have. These persons have an intellectual disability due to this genetic condition.

Down syndrome is diagnosed at birth by observation and genetic testing. Down syndrome is the most common chromosome abnormality. Persons with Down syndrome can learn like any other, given the right opportunities and support. They attend mainstream schools with their peers, work in open employment and eventually live independently. 

The world needs to see the ability of the persons who have Down syndrome and not the disability.

Sometimes people are uncomfortable around persons who have Down syndrome. This attitude does not leave space to get to know them. It can be surprising how much one can learn from them and not only the other way round.

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated to raise awareness but also to remind each and every one of us that we need to act. Persons with Down syndrome want to be accepted and to be part of our society. They are eager to learn, look forward to go to work and last but not least, to have fun with all of us. They do not want to be secluded. They want to be heard and to have a life like any other person. They are asking for this together with the right support to achieve their wishes and dreams.

I hope this article makes one think, understand and change (if this is the case) attitudes and beliefs towards these persons. Remember, we are not all the same. We are all humans and so we all have our own limits. We should see the glass as half full and not as half empty.

Joeanna Xerri

Down Syndrome Association