Wow, guys, you’re totally spoiling me for topics to write about these days. First, I was going to talk about Ryan Fenech’s racist attack on Black people based on an allegedly fake assault on his parents. Then I thought I’d write about Robert Abela and Evarist Bartolo, who are apparently going to Libya to discuss migration. Then, last night, I thought I’d actually write about Franco Debono calling the police to get Mario Vella to remove a comment he had posted. Apparently, by some crazy twist of the law, having a swearword and an adjective in a comment aimed at someone who makes sure to always stay in the headlines isn’t considered fair comment. Go figure.
But, while all those topics are indeed important, I feel that MAM calling a strike is what I need to focus on today, because you know what? Good for them. And I’m going to tell you why you too should support it.
When the pandemic first hit the islands, the reins were clearly in the hands of experts who knew what they were doing. Measures escalated on the daily and, while some may have seemed excessive, the results spoke for themselves: we had very few deaths, the hospitals weren’t overrun, the community was kept as safe as humanly possible, and our healthcare workers and other front liners were being shown the respect they deserve.
Then, thanks to people like Robert Abela, Tony Zahra, Julia Farrugia Portelli and a host of others who never showed their faces or voiced their opinion in public, but were indubitably putting a lot of pressure behind the scenes, we opened our airports, allowed mass events and, at one point, absurdly discussed refunding those who had been fined for breaking the laws enacted to keep our country safe.
Of course, the MAM strike inconveniences a lot of people: anyone who has an appointment booked at hospital, anyone who was meant to undergo a non-emergency procedure, anyone who had any check-ups coming up, and so on. And this at a time when everything is already behind due to the pandemic.
But strikes are meant to be disruptive and inconvenient; that is the whole point of them. They show us how much work the people we take for granted actually do. And our healthcare workers are being taken for granted this time round. So for granted, in fact, that people are out there saying that its part of a healthcare worker’s job to be in the line of fire in case of a pandemic.
Indeed, our healthcare workers do agree to take care of us, but that doesn’t mean that we get to throw anything we want at them, particularly when there are alternatives that could easily keep them safer. So, yes, they are there to serve and protect us, but they are not there to have their lives endangered for no reason other than some hotelier wanting to reopen early, or some Paceville boss wanting his weekly dosh.
We also need to ask ourselves why the government is refusing to issue directives that ban mass events, particularly when organisations and individuals are cancelling their own. Who stands to benefit from such lack of regulations?
The government has a responsibility to protect health workers and their families as much as it has a responsibility to protect me and mine and you and yours. The recent measures and the lack of action in the face of the spike are not protecting any of them – and to erroneously, xenophobically and conveniently lump the blame on migrants when the statistics clearly show that we were in the European Top 10 without their additional numbers, is a further slap in the face to our front liners.
Why? Because it shows that the government is more intent on protecting itself following a disastrous set of choices than it is on admitting it was wrong and potentially saving lives.
So good on MAM for taking on the government on this one. May they remain steadfast and headstrong. And may we learn that those who are there to protect us are not to be taken for granted and abused of, especially when they prove their valour through a fabulous job done so well.