Fabian Demicoli

Vince Farrugia, GRTU, EESC and Insinuations Galore

  I find it absolutely incredible that people, supposedly wishing the Labour Party well, should use the media of the PL to spread so much venom and vitriol against the GRTU and its Director General, Vince Farrugia.

The grtu has been around for 62 years and we are used to political attacks from one side or another of the political field in Malta. It has always been like this, so in itself the fact that currently it is scribblers from the Labour side that are leading the attack hardly impresses us much. People who's memory reaches at least till 1995 know how silly these attacks are. The excuse these hate mongers use is that the GRTU approved the candidature of Vince Farrugia last year for the European Parliament Elections and that he chose to contest with the Nationalist Party and that he campaigned as part of the Nationalist Party candidate team. That was more than a year ago. The GRTU never abandoned its independent non-political role though it exercised its right to advise members during the EP elections, a right that the GRTU has practiced on many occasions before and will continue to do depending on what, during any particular period of time, the GRTU believes to be in the best interests of the economic sectors that GRTU represents. In 1987 our advice favoured the PN, in 1996 our advice favoured the MLP, and in 2009 it favoured indirectly the PN. We are free to decide and no one in any political camp will ever intimidate us to change. We decide either not to act or we decide to act always as an independent body and according to what we decide is best.

Irrespective to whatever else others, including the cowardly unnamed scribblers in Maltastar and other Labour oriented websites, may say, the GRTU will not be pushed either to become entrenched in the PN or for that matter in the PL – just as the PN media used to insinuate way back in 1996. Those who today are striving hard to use the Labour media to push the GRTU into an anti-LP stance will also fail as the GRTU remains staunchly independent. The Director General Vince Farrugia is an ex-PN MEP Candidate but that does not make him a politician and since he returned as full-time Director General of GRTU as from the morrow of the EP elections, Vince Farrugia has steered away from all political linkage with any political party and he acts solely as Chief Officer and policy director of the GRTU. The Labour inspired media may wish to continue don quixotically waging battles against GRTU but this is the truth and the commitment Vince Farrugia has with GRTU: he is not a candidate to any political office and he holds no position in any political organization.

As to the personal attacks on Vince Farrugia, we who work closely with him know for a fact that if there is one 100% honest person without any conflict of interest in the exercise of his duties in Malta today that person is Vince Farrugia. That is why all attacks and insinuations made against him are always unsigned as all know that all insinuations will never stand a chance when challenged in Court.

As to the story published this week in Maltastar insinuating that Vince Farrugia manipulated the removal of Sylvia Gauci from EESC so that he could take up the post himself and that GRTU has no right to represent SME employers in Brussels, it is incredible that anyone can be so vitriolic. Let me state some economic facts (Source DG Enterprise and Industry: SBA Fact Sheets) so that the readers will not be so widely misled:

1. In Malta SME's represent 99.9% of enterprises – Micro and Small being 99.2% (in Malta only 0.6% are medium and only 0.1% are large)

2. Maltese SME's employ 76.8% of all Maltese workers, while the EU average for SMEs is 67.4% ;

3. Small and Micro firms employ 51% of all Maltese workers;

4. SME's produce 58% of all the economic value added produced in Malta;

5. Micro and Small firms produce 40% of all the economic value added produced in Malta.

And may I also state some facts about GRTU:

1. GRTU is a registered Employers organization. Under the Employment and Industrial Relations Act representative organizations can register either as Employers organizations or as Trade Unions representing wage and salary earners. Employers are profit earners. None of the GRTU members are workers or employees except of their own company and all members are employers employing from one to anything up to 1500 (the largest);

2. GRTU has been recognized as an Employers organization representing the micro, small and medium enterprises since the first labour legislation was established in Malta requiring formal registration at law.

3. GRTU has steadfastly and uninterruptedly retained its legal representation of employers in the retail, trade, services and craft sector at national and EU level and represent these sectors at MCESD level (initially at MCD level) and this representation has been recognized by both the PN and the PL and by all Governments in Malta.

4. GRTU has the right as a registered and officially recognised Employers organisation to represent Maltese Employers at ILO and GRTU has referred the obstinate refusal of the Maltese Authorities to request GRTU to participate in the ILO Maltese delegation to ILO. After the personal intervention of the ILO deputy-secretary general and following the personal mediation of the then Deputy Prime  Minister and Minister for Social Policy of Malta, Hon Dr Lawrence Gonzi, it was amicably decided between Government, the Malta Employers Association and GRTU, that Government will accept to nominate to the European Economic and Social Committee a person nominated by GRTU to be one of the two Employers (Level 1) Maltese Representatives on the EESC while the Malta Government nominee from the Employers Organizations at ILO will be from the Malta Employers Association and an adviser from the Federation of Industry of Malta, although the FOI and Chamber of Commerce are not registered Employers Organisations within the framework of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act.

5. Since Malta acquired the right to nominate to EESC the Maltese Government has always nominated: one employer representative from FOI/Chamber of Commerce; one employer representative from the GRTU; one employee representative from the GWU and one employee representative from CMTU/UHM.

6. The representative at Level 3 at EESC comes from a Government decision through the National Council of Women. Level 3 at EESC represents Civil Society in General incorporating most of the organizations that in Malta are registered at law as NGO's and include self-employed groups like Farmers and Fishermen and other small operators who in their majority are unrepresented by any formal organization.

7. GRTU is registered at law as GRTU – Malta Chamber of SMEs. With more than 7000 registered members owning more than 12,000 enterprises and employing together more than 45,000 workers, it would be most unjust if the Government or the Labour Party opposition in Parliament were to deny the right of the GRTU to represent employers in the SME sector at EESC. Indeed the GRTU has successfully represented Maltese Employers at EESC since Malta acquired the right of representation, and GRTU representative Sylvia Gauci has performed excellently reaching even the level of Vice-President of the Employers Group at EESC.

8. The story that Vince Farrugia or GRTU manipulated the removal of the former Executive Secretary of MCESD to nominate Sylvia Gauci so that Vince Farrugia could take her place at EECS is sheer conjecture, speculation and a strange bit of mental crookedness. First of all anyone who knows GRTU knows that it was on the initiative of the Director General that GRTU originally nominated Sylvia Gauci and that she succeeded to reach the excellent levels she reached substantially due to the tutoring that Vince Farrugia gave Ms Gauci.

Sylvia Gauci is an extremely capable person and she deserves all that she has achieved through her high level qualities and qualifications. When the Post of executive secretary at MCESD became vacant some years back, Sylvia Gauci decided to apply. She was short listed but eventually the job became vacant again. When the post became vacant again as the short listed person the job was offered to her as she was obviously entitled to it. It was a difficult decision for her as the statute of EECS clearly excludes representatives that hold full time employment in the Public sector. Furthermore the chief operating executive secretary of a national tri-partite body like the MCESD could not possibly be a representative of one party (Employers) on EESC.

Finally I refer to Vince Farrugia's candidacy to EESC.

Is there really any person in Malta, who is not utterly and absolutely biased and venomous towards Vince Farrugia, who does not honestly recognize that the Director General of GRTU has the personal abilities, experience, qualifications and recognition in Malta and at EU level to represent SME employers at EESC?

It is incredible that Vince Farrugia's credentials as an extremely valuable person in his field of specialisation is being discredited in this manner. Vince Farrugia is a qualified Economist, specialized in Labour Economics and Industrial Relations. He is a former University Lecturer in Labour Economics and Industrial relations. He has served on enough Boards and Committees in Malta and at EU level on issues related to Business Development, Economics and Industrial relations, representing SME's and Employers, to really qualify him as a "D.O.C." personality in his field.

The GRTU is proud of Vince Farrugia and the excellent work he has done over the years and, yes, we are extremely proud that he has accepted our nomination of his candidature for the EESC post. We and all others who have worked with him know that he will make us proud.


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