On Workers’ Day, GWU lambasts Repubblika over migrant death inquiry

Left-wing union hits out at complaint that kick-started investigation into Malta’s outsourced pushback

GWU President Victor Carachi
GWU President Victor Carachi

The General Workers Union has lambasted a civil society organisation which filed a criminal complaint alleging that Malta’s refusal to rescue a boatload of migrants inside its search and rescue region, led to the death of five migrants and the disappearance of another seven.

The boat was returned to Libya by a private vessel, now believed to have been chartered by the Maltese government so as to not to effect what would have been an illegal pushback by an official arm of the State. Malta insists its ports are not safe for the rescue of migrants at sea due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message railing against the EU’s unwillingness to secure a common solution to migrant rescues, GWU president Victor Carachi said Malta had been “left alone by an ineffective EU to deal with the war in Libya”.

But he also lambasted Repubblika of having been “utterly dishonest” for filing a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Robert Abela, the Armed Forces commander Jeffrey Curmi, and the officers on the P52 - initially suspected of having sabotaged another migrant boat - without having had established the facts of the case.

“This NGO would do well in the future to show their commitment towards the savings of lives by pressing visiting EU commission officials and members of parliament towards a solution for the war in Libya and its tragic consequences. This is how they can live up to their name and also  demonstrate that they have the savings of lives at heart, as peace and stability in Libya will put an end to all this suffering!”

Carachi said Malta’s refusal to take in migrants rescued at sea as “touch choices [that] must be made” due to the EU’s inaction. “The chaos in Libya was brought about namely by the UK, and by France with the support of the US. These countries now want nothing to do with this tragedy as it is not in their own back yard! Malta, particularly the AFM, has done a lot in saving the lives of immigrants and asylum seekers who brave the seas and risk their lives for want of protection and a better life.”

In his Workers Day address, Carachi praised the Maltese authorities for having taken all necessary steps to mitigate the COVID-19 threat. “Unfortunately, four people died so far because of this virus, but it seems that we have not only flattened the curve but also crushed it. However, this threat is far from over. We have to remain vigilant and continue following the guidelines issued from time to time by the health authorities.”

He pointed out that Malta’s tourism was now at standstill, and that while construction was still ongoing, albeit at a slower pace, the property market remained at a near-standstill.

“On the other hand, manufacturing, supermarkets, groceries, and other food related industries including agriculture, seem to be doing rather well. In this scenario, the government has also to be complimented for striking a deal with all social partners represented at the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) with the signing of a historic social pact.

“This social pact has ensured that all employees, (including the self-employed), that have been affected by total or partial closure, will continue to receive a social wage which is above the minimum wage. It goes without saying that the economic and financial performances of the past seven years, were indispensable for the government to be able to come up with a social pact that was credible and had sustainable measures to aid industry and employment. This will surely ensure that once the restrictive measures introduced to combat the spread of the virus are lifted, our economy will hit the ground running.”

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