Having Malta Shipyards run by foreigners would mean a return to foreigners having a maritime base in Malta, the Campaign for National Independence (CNI) said in a statement.

It said that rather than being transferred to foreign ownership, the dockyard should be transferred to a workers' cooperative which could then join a foreign strategic partner which could provide professional management and marketing.

The CNI, which is fronted by former Labour Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, said a foreign-owned shipyard would mean a return to the days before the British base closed down in 1979. It would mean breaking the country's vow never again to accept a foreign base in Malta.

The CNI said privatisation could take place by having the shipyard transferred to a workers' cooperative, with the government thus no longer responsible for subsidies.

The Campaign said the workers knew the shortcomings they suffered when they were responsible for the running of the shipyard and would not repeat the same mistakes.

The CNI said that through its proposal the dockyard would remain in Maltese hands, it would contribute to the Maltese economy, the government would not need to shoulder subsidies, and productivity would increase since the workers would be ultimately responsible for the operation.

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