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Palumbo Shipyards Anniversary - Shipyards back to their glory in a sustainable manner

27 May 2016

Palumbo opened its operations in Malta on 2nd June, 2010. It faced a great challenge. Many were those who had their doubts whether this Italian company would succeed in its venture and give back to the Drydocks in Malta the glory they once knew.

The privatisation of Malta’s largest shipyard has certainly started a new era which one may arguably say was predicted, 45 years ago, by Lord Robens, the British Chairman of the 1960s Joint Mission for Malta. Speaking about Malta’s drydocks way ahead in the light of the prevailing situation at that time, Lord Robens told journalists that it was going to take long until ship owners would gain again confidence in the Maltese Dockyard. Indeed, it did take a long time to see the shipyards active again at the level the industry deserves.

The challenge for the new investors was far from simple. They had to overcome, for instance, the negative international perception that the industry had been suffering from for various reasons particularly the strikes and other industrial actions that took place in the past.

In a span of 10 years, between 1960 and 1970, the dockyard experienced 31 worker strikes. In 1960 there was one strike of 6 days. This was followed by a strike of just two hours in 1961, two strikes totalling 35 days in 1963, and one strike of three days in 1964., In 1968 there were five strikes totalling 13 days and a half, and in 1969 two strikes with a total of 11 days.

The most difficult year was 1970, when the drydocks experienced 19 strikes totalling 202 days. The actions, which were related to the pay structure, gave rise to various concerns about the future of the dockyard. They paralysed the industry’s operations for more than seven months. The unrest only came to an end after the Labour Party’s coming to power in the 1971 general elections. After 1971, various issues continued to come up, including the questionable management system that was introduced in the shipyards.

Beyond the international perception, the new investors had to deal with the local varying point of views about the shipyards. On one side, the nationalist political sector was rather sceptical about a new initiative at the drydocks, in view of what went on in the 80s and 90s, including the heavy losses the shipyards had sufferred. On the other hand, the labour political sector needed to come to terms with the pressure of its long-standing ally, the General Workers’ Union, which appeared to prefer seeing its historical membership fortress re-opening under the wings of nationalisation.

In spite of the difficult scenario the Palumbo Group invested and continues to invest in the Shipyard, in modern technology and employees, and in the community in the area.

In a span of five years, the Shipyard hosted more than one thousand vessels, which is quite a remarkable milestone when one considers that the concern was totally inactive prior to June 2010.

Palumbo Malta Shipyard Limited (PMSL) is now internationally renowned especially in the Mediterranean. It is regularly participating in the most prestigious Maritime Exhibitions Worldwide, with state of the art stands. To mention a few, Palumbo were present at:

SMM – Hamburg – Germany
Monaco Boat Show
Dubai International Boat Show
Posedonia – Athens – Greece
Norship – Norway
SEA ASIA – Singapore
OTC – Houston

The excellent service being provided by PMSL has secured for it top customers from Greece, Germany, USA, Italy, Algeria, Singapore, UK, Norway, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark, Egypt and, naturally, Malta.

Palumbo Group invests heavily in the training of its workers. Training for shipyard employees is organised through an annual planning programme which includes in-house and out-sourced initiatives. Moreover, as regards specific technical training, staff members on many occasions are sent to internationally recognised specialised training providers such as:

Propulsion Integrity Engineering – Hamburg, Germany
Docking – London UK
Safety – Gas Testing – Aberdeen UK
Hull Treatment – Bremen – Germany
LNG insulation material – Paris France

Palumbo Group also highly promotes the sharing of skills. The mix of skills at the shipyard is considered extremely important as employees learn a lot from each other’s experience.

The Palumbo operations, as presented in the accounts submitted to the Registry of Companies show a sustainable concern. Gone are the days of the enormous losses the drydocks used to experience at the time of their nationalisation.

The Group recently announced further investment in Malta and in Tenerife. These investments form part of Palumbo’s plans for the future.

Industry stakeholders have been commenting in the circles that Palumbo’s taking over of Malta’s dormant Drydocks was a blessing. All the shipyard industry grew thanks to the investment made by Palumbo. It also spurred other operators in the field to keep on investing in order to keep up with the service offered by Palumbo.

Palumbo Group is also showing a strong Corporate Social responsibility policy. Over the years, it contributed to a long list of national and local organisations, among others:

The Annual L-Istrina Community Chest Fund campaign
Id-Dar tal-Providenza
Vittoriosa Football Club
Catherine’s Church
Festa Marija Bambina – Senglea
St Margaret School – Cospicua
Regatta Club – Bormla
George’s Football Club
Senglea Atlethics Football Club
Isla Bocci Club
Għaqda Regatta Nazzjonali
San Ġużepp Band – Kalkara
Lifescale Challenge
Wood Forever Pact
Kunsill Pastoral Parokkjali – Senglea
Life Cycle
Alive Charity Foundation
Royal Malta Golf Club
Vittoriosa Local Council
Sponsoring Maltese Sportsmen/Artists to Play/Sing abroad
Christmas Party for all Cottonera children with social difficulties
Mother Theresa of Calcutta Home – Cospicua

It has also been noted that Mr Antonio Palumbo himself makes occasional community visits to various parts of Cottonera to get a first hand view of the difficulties and the needs there; and so be able to assess better how the shipyards could contribute further to the common good in the area.

As part of its sixth anniversarys celebrations Palumbo Group is organising an Open Day with an evening concert on 27th May 2016. It is also sponsoring the MIM Yacht and Superyacht Symposium being held on 9 June,2016. This is a major event in Malta which brings together all the stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities being offered by the Super Yacht industry.

For further details, please contact:
Palumbo Malta Shipyard Ltd.
The Docks, Ghajn Dwieli Road,
Paola PLA9056
Tel: 23960000
Fax: 21824027