The public transport strike: konsenturi.
Posted by fcb on July 16, 2008
The public transport strike has shaken the country. The Malta Transport Federation shows no signs of softening. An “and-everybody-lived-happily-ever-after” end is not in sight. True, the economic impact has not (so far) been catastrophic. The political and social impact, however, has been more powerful and more serious than meets the eye.
The political impact on the ruling Nationalist Party has been tremendous. The rank and file of the Party is shocked at the intensity of the strikers’ anger. The ordinary Nationalist supporter is genuinely surprised. We spoke to several and most reacted in the same way. They ask: “What did we do to them? Many, perhaps most, of them are Nationalists like us. Couldn’t we have solved this amicably, as we always do?”
Although Minister Austin Gatt puts up a facade of cool uncompromising toughness, not all is well within the Government and within the Party in government. There are clear signs of fatigue and cracks – konsenturi – are beginning to appear. We are not surprised. The stress is tremendous. The attempt to reassure the rank and file of the Nationalist Party and the ordinary Nationalist supporter that all is under control is beginning to fail.
Many of them are beginning to wonder who is responsible for a situation that could have been prevented. Many are beginning to point fingers and to speak of serious political mismanagement. Many are expecting Lawrence Gonzi to relieve Austin Gatt of a job that is evidently above and beyond his political competence and ability. Gatt, many – including a number of his own colleagues – have concluded, is unable to solve a problem that should not have been a problem in the first place.
The social impact, too, has been considerable. It has been a long time since we witnessed words and actions as harsh as some of those we heard and saw in the last three days. The effect will not rub off easily. The harshness we witnessed is a clear sign that beneath the surface not all is well in this society. Pressures from conflicts and resentment are building up to a level that is fast approaching the danger mark.
The political responsibility for the build-up of these pressures goes beyond the responsibility for the situation we are living through now. The public transport strike is only one episode, one of a number of other potential eruptions. The roots of this turmoil is to be found in the irresponsible manner with which Nationalist governments have, over the years, failed to tackle important issues decisively and definitively.