The Vitals saga no longer only concerns the Government and investors – the effects of a flawed privatisation are being felt at home: Workers within healthcare sector going on strike.
The Government’s persistent reticence is a sign that it is not coping with the rapid developments in the healthcare sector, which are prompting further calls for investigations into the deal on solid evidence of corruption and the apparent embezzlement of taxpayer money. These issues are pokes multiple holes in the Government’s defences to the Vitals deal:
1. “The Vitals deal is allowing medicines to remain in stock”
This does not seem to be the case: today, The Shift News breaks the story that government pharmacists have also gone on strike. Reasons given, among others, were that the most basic and important medicines were frequently out of stock.
Very recently, the Shift also reported on medical supplies increasing drastically after the Vitals deal.
2. “The Labour Party is truly a party for the workers”
Earlier this week, a ‘fake news’ offensive was launched by Glenn Bedingfield against doctors for exercising their basic right to strike. The strike went along after the Government broke an agreement if had with the Medical Association of Malta (MAM).
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat later said that the doctors have a right to protest, but did not condemn his MP for spreading false information and discouraging striking workers. He went on to say that the issues will be “flattened”.
The right to strike is a fundamental right enshrined in the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, synonymous with worker empowerment. That the Government has expressed itself against this is very telling.
3. “This Labour Government will be the most transparent yet.”
Unfortunately, being transparent does not involve keeping negotiations secret from the public, redacting contracts and refusing to comment on an issue that concerns the fate of national healthcare.
The healthcare sector is one that is of fundamental importance to the well-being and ultimately the proper functioning of our nation – it is no trifling matter. For this reason, the taxpayer should be prioritised, not the commercial entities; similarly, people should come before profit.