Teachers following legitimate union directives were individually summoned to the Education Ministry. They were told “their services” would be discussed. If this sounds ominous, it’s because it is. Any worker obeying union directives summoned individually to the Ministry would tremble. Especially when that Ministry is Justyne Caruana’s.
The Ministry’s summons are reminiscent of Winston Smith’s call to Room 101, the torture chamber in the basement of the ministry of love in Orwell’s 1984. There, the party subjects the citizens to their worst nightmare in order to break down their resistance.
Rightly fearful, those teachers called for help. They informed their union of the Ministry’s devious plan and pleaded for protection. So the Union turned up at the Ministry’s foyer to accompany its members.
The Minister’s permanent secretary was ‘taken aback’. He furiously objected to the Union’s presence and insisted on speaking to the individual teachers alone. Every person summoned to Room 101 enters alone.
The Union was not cowed into submission. It demanded to be allowed to protect its members. The Permanent secretary adamantly refused. So the Union instructed its members to leave the Ministry. The Union condemned the “gung-ho attitude” of the Permanent secretary and his “blatant and deliberate disregard for union directives”.
Justyne Caruana has a history of resorting to such tactics. When UHM requested a meeting with the head of department of Day Centre workers to discuss their concerns, Caruana summoned them to her Ministry. She allegedly ordered them not to comply with union directives or they would pay dearly. She allegedly threatened to report them to the police.
Caruana denied the claims, insisting she met them without Union representatives “to ease their worries” but that “nevertheless the Parliamentary secretary could not remain idle and quiet”. Quiet is not what Caruana’s famous for. And quiet, she certainly wasn’t at that notorious meeting.
Caruana never apologised. Nor was she compelled to, for those tactics are the modus operandi of Labour’s government – crush dissent using any and all means.
When a group of Marsascala residents hung banners protesting against exploitation of their village by business interests, they were swiftly charged in court. The police summoned individuals involved in the protests on baseless accusations.
The mayor of Marsascala had illegally constituted the M’Scala Regeneration Committee chaired by Labour candidate Ray Abela. His cousin, Eric Abela, who had business interests in M’Scala’s main square, also sat on the committee.
Eric, with Ray’s help, redesigned the square to benefit his own business interests. The Committee opened talks with state entities on those plans without the residents’ and local council’s knowledge.
Yet Malta’s efficient police force prosecuted the residents who protested, only for the Court to acquit them of the “baseless charges” of “hanging banners illegally”. Those residents will not face jail – but the message is loud and clear. Protest and dissent at your own risk – you will be harassed, persecuted and intimidated.
When Alex Dalli decided to suspend himself after the 13th death at Corradino, prison wardens were threatened to sign a petition calling for his reinstatement. Prison inmates were also circulating their own petition and those refusing to sign were intimidated.
But despite the widespread reports of coercion, the Home Affairs Ministry described the petition as “workers exercising their right to expression”.
Labour’s loyal arm, the GWU, was on side. 94% of all prison wardens signed the petition they bragged. 94% is the level of support only repressive regimes like Ilham Aliyev’s enjoy – and it’s neither through fair nor free election. With a punishment chair, solitary confinement, guns, threats and intimidation, Dalli’s 94% “support” is hardly surprising.
The GWU stooped to unprecedented depths when it released recordings of a prison inmate, Anthony Borg, swearing and shouting inside prison in a shameless attempt to discredit him. Borg had the temerity to expose the mistreatment of prisoners at Corradino.
Prison wardens had recorded an inmate and released the clip to the GWU, which criminally published it to protect Colonel Dalli and Minister Byron Camilleri. Wardens have a duty of care towards inmates who are always in a vulnerable situation. Instead they abused their position of power, broke their oath of confidentiality and soiled their honour.
The GWU’s actions were equivalent to the Medical Association of Malta releasing recordings of a patient swearing while entrusted to the care of doctors in the state hospital. The obscenely reckless abuse of that person’ rights by those responsible for protecting them was never condemned.
No inquiry was set up to determine how a person under the care of the state was recorded without his authorisation and the recording exploited for political purposes. The GWU faced no repercussions for its disturbingly unethical action.
No wonder wardens and inmates sign those petitions – they know Labour won’t stop at anything. The unwritten code is clear for all – you will pay for your dissent.
One Gozitan contractor, John Vella, experienced that code in action. When he reported Evarist Bartolo’s canvasser, Edward Caruana, for soliciting a 30,000 euro bribe from him, he was perversely dragged before the court himself by Labour’s police.
Caruana demanded the bribe to release the payment Vella was due for work he carried out at Gozo’s sixth form.
The contractor was charged with slander in September 2015. He was finally acquitted more than three years later on 31st October 2018 – and only because CEO Philip Rizzo had compiled a 200 page dossier about Caruana’s crimes.
Evarist Bartolo knew about the serious accusations against his canvasser. He chose to protect him by “waiting for a smoking gun”.
While the innocent contractor who told the truth was charged by police within days, it took them years to prosecute Bartolo’s canvasser despite incontrovertible evidence – a huge block of flats in Rabat he developed without taking any loans.
Labour abuses the organs of state – the civil service, the police – and its friendly union, to coerce, intimidate and suppress dissent.
Despite his ordeal, Vella should consider himself lucky. Another critic of Labour’s government paid a much higher price.