Maltese Dockworkers Balk At USN Ship Work

Friday, February 16, 2001
Some Maltese dockworkers refuse to carry out a planned $8 million refit of the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship La Salle because this would violate Malta's neutrality. Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami went on television to warn that his government would stop all financial aid to loss-making Malta Drydocks if not enough workers were available to carry out the work. He denied that the contract would violate the island's neutrality. A section of the General Workers' Union which represents the bulk of workers at Malta Drydocks said its delegates had decided not to work on the ship. Fenech Adami said that as a result of that decision the management board of Malta Drydocks had submitted its resignation but the government had refused to accept this. "If not enough workers are found to be ready to work so that the contract may be carried out without problems, the government has decided that it will immediately stop all financial assistance to Malta Drydocks," Fenech Adami said. Malta Drydocks has debts of $271 million and was given $143 million in state aid over the past nine years. The U.S. ship is due in Malta in April. - (Reuters)

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