Malta's biggest trade union directed its members to carry out a refit of a U.S. warship, after some workers complained that the project compromised Malta's neutrality and refused to work on it. "Work on the USS La Salle may be carried out," General Workers' Union (GWU) general secretary Tony Zarb said
. The $8 million refit of the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship was thrown into doubt when the GWU's shipyards section, which represents the bulk of workers at Malta Drydocks
, said its delegates had decided not to work on the ship. The dockyards' management submitted its resignation, but Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami refused to accept this and warned that his government would stop all financial aid to the loss-making drydocks if not enough workers were available to carry out the work. He denied the contract violated Malta's neutrality. Zarb said on Saturday it was not clear whether the refit contract for the La Salle, which docks in April, violated the constitution, but the union felt it should be fulfilled in the national interest.
Saturday's decision by the union's national council was unanimous and included the shipyards section. - (Reuters)