Prime Minister Dr. Robert Abela in his address to the international conference
marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the General Workers’ Union (GWU)
“As Prime Minister who proudly leads the Workers’ Party, I am honoured to be
among you today. To me, this union signifies a social movement that has changed
the situation of workers and in the process has changed society’s recognition of the
worker for the better,” Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela stressed in his address to the
international conference to mark the 80th anniversary of the union.
He told the GWU leaders that they can be truly proud of what they have achieved
and encouraged them to continue with the same rhythm and passion.
Dr Abela stressed that the GWU and the social history of our country are inextricably
linked because it was the work of the union itself that radically changed the situation of workers over the last 80 years. He acknowledged that the change did not happen
automatically, nor because the times changed on their own, but because “the country
had strong progressive forces and GWU was at the forefront”.
He went on to say that throughout its history, GWU has not been a union that has
closed shop, nor has it been a union that has been content with improving working
conditions for its members. It has performed its duties very well, so much so that it
has not only worked hard to achieve better working conditions for its members, but
also good conditions for thousands of other workers, whether they were members or
not: “It represented and worked for the whole working class as much as for its own
“In this union, trade union skills are paramount. The union has always been aware of
the need to end an existing labour dispute as soon as possible and not to leave too
many stains on the negotiation process because it must be ended quickly between
the employer and the workers of the other side,” said Dr Abela.
During the same conference, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech took to the floor and
stressed that “we celebrate the work of a trade union that collectively with other
unions in this country, they have always emphasised the most important thing – the
interests of workers. He said that this should continue to be the case and that no
matter who is in government, the work will focus not only on improving wages but
He stressed that we need to ensure that we help the most vulnerable so that they
are not left behind and everyone in our country gets ahead. He also said that we
need to see how we address the scourge of the high cost of living. “That is why we
continue to insist with the government that a number of measures be put in place to
alleviate this scourge,” Dr Grech said.
The Opposition Leader mentioned that among the measures they have proposed via
PN is the strengthening of every sector of the economy. “It is important to create a
new economic model with new sectors. We should not miss the opportunities that
are developing around us,” Dr Grech added.
He reiterated that the allowance COLA should not be taxable, and that the
government should provide tax incentives to combat the increase in the cost of living.
He reminded that we must ensure that what we do as a country is sustainable. “We
can be sustainable because that is what we want and that is what we need. Not only
for the next generation, but also for the generation after that and the one after that.
That is our duty and together we can make that happen.”