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The Fairmount scandal

The Professional and Services Section of the General Workers' Union, representing the managers of Malta Shipyards Ltd, strongly objects to the article Malta Shipyards Says It Lost €37.7 million On The Fairmount Contract, Not €80m (December 6).

In fact, it can be assured to readers that most of the managers of MSL object to the Malta Shipyards' statement and actually agree with the GWU report on the Fairmount scandal.

To know the facts better, The Times, as one of the leading newspapers, should have carried out some investigative journalism and have gone into why, for example, MSL managers with long years of experience and successes behind their back were not even consulted on the Fairmount contract.

Doing so, The Times would have realised that although it is an established procedure within Malta Shipyards that responsible managers are officially involved in contractual decisions, this was not the case on the Fairmount projects. This procedure was otherwise used on all contracts, even when much less extensive than this case. All the following managers should all have been involved in the decisions taken regarding this contract:

a) The head of production, as the most experienced manager in both production and construction. In fact he was responsible, amongst other projects, for the successful completion of a 120MW Power Station Barge which is able to meet around one third of the island's electrical demand. This project was completed with profit and success;

b) the marketing manager, as the most experienced manager in marketing. There are no doubts regarding his abilities, not only because of the position he held but also because he was immediately employed in the same field by one of the biggest off-shore companies, Blue Water when he left the shipyard.

c) the commercial and sales manager, who was also the most experienced manager in commercial and contract matters. He was also immediately employed by an off-shore company based in Monaco;

d) the manager who at the time was the hull manager, who was given the responsibility by the executive management to lead the Fjord project as project manager. He incurred all the serious problems and shortcomings involved without him being consulted prior to the signing of the contract with all its commitments;

e) the purchasing manager;

f) the engineering manager;

g) the estimating manager;

h) the planning manager.

There is no doubt that should this involvement have taken place, the end result would have been different. Surely, they would not have accepted the reductions granted by Graham Couser and the contract conditions that put Malta Shipyards at a disadvantage, and at a loss, before the work had even started.

Furthermore, no explanation has as yet been given as to why Mr Couser modified the estimates and negotiated the contract when the relevent managers were not involved and totally excluded from related decisions and negotiations regarding the contract in question. Despite this mess, Mr Couser was allowed to leave the Shipyards several months prior to the expiration of his contract. Why? One would hoped that these facts would help The Times to better understand the nature behind the Fairmount scandalous contract rather than take for granted statements issued by the Malta Shipyards.

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