We have notified you in previous urgent action requests about the serious situation for trade unions in Malta. In August 1999 airport workers in the General Workers Union took strike action. During this action a number arrests were made of strikers by the police and the army.
In November 1999 the government placed serious criminal charges against a number of strikers and 17 top leaders of the GWU, as well as their lawyer. During the arraignment process in January, it was revealed that several GWU members working at the Fire Section of Malta International Airport were forced to submit to a humiliating strip search by police officers. Senior police officers from the Drugs Squad, Fraud Squad, Economic Crimes Unit and the Criminal Investigations Department described how they had received verbal orders from two assistant police commissioners to help in the police action against the strikers. A Brigadier of the Armed Forces of Malta testified that a top government committee requested the military to make arrests of strikers. The Minister of Internal Affairs testified that a direct political order was given to the police to intervene and arrest the workers in the fire section and replace them with ex-police officers.
The ICFTU and the ITF have now jointly submitted a formal complaint against the Maltese Government to the ILO.
The government appears determined to pursue these cases. The courts are currently deciding on whether the trial should be brought in front of a journey. They are requesting messages of protests to be sent to the government.
I would request that your union join in a coordinated “fax storm” of protest letters to the government. The text of a letter of protest sent by the ITF to the Maltese government is available. Please write your own protest letter on your union's headed note paper. This should be sent with the “Stop Harassment” leaflet attached.
These protests should be faxed on 28 March 2000 to:
Dr Edward Fenech Adami, Prime Minister, + 356 249888
Mr Censu Galea, Minister for Transport, +356 248937/ 233970.
Please send messages of solidarity to
Tony Zarb, General Secretary
General Workers' Union (GWU)
Port & Transport Section
Workers' Memorial Building
Tel: 00 356 244 300
Fax: 00 356 244 649