SME Chamber

The Straight to Heaven Brigade

 At GRTU we call them ‘il-Kummissjoni ghall-Genna dritt!' These are the columnists who've never ran a business, never travelled beyond London, Paris and Rome, never earned the country anything and who are experts on what all others should be doing. They are the pro-government spend and spend schemers. They are anti-employers, anti-enterprise, and of course anti GRTU!

Immigrant Workers

One hot issue the Straight to Heaven Brigade is contesting with GRTU is relating to the employment of immigrant workers (vide Malta Today 29.06.08 page 24). GRTU Director General Vincent Farrugia appealed, during a discussion on Disset programme, for a rational approach to the issue of employing immigrant workers.

"Immigrant workers fall under five categories", Vince Farrugia explained, those that come by boat and stay for a short period, those that obtain refugee or any other status and stay here; those who come as part of an employment contract managed by a foreign employment agency; others, mainly Europeans from outside the EU lands; Philippines, Chinese and other Asians who come here through whatever scheme.

There are various schemes in operation and it is not fair that Maltese employers are timbered as bad employers. There are those who abuse but the number is small and many stories are legend: they happened when rules were not enacted, today most of the mishaps of yesterday cannot occur. The main culprits are individual Maltese and not licensed employers and the worse are foreigners. The foreigners are either those responsible for Employment Agencies under contract with major projects promoters in Malta, who bring Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Asians to work on construction sites.

These workers are promised lump sums at the end of the contract and during their stay in Malta are effectively slaves of the Agency. There are also other foreign big chiefs, namely African or Arab, who recruit the other immigrants released on the local market through some "status" scheme or another. These big chiefs find jobs and rent out places for these recruits, most times in complete disregard of renting accommodation and employment rules.

Then there are the recruitment yards mainly Marsa, that offer employment opportunities for those who sit on the fence in the early morning awaiting the street waste carriers and smaller contractors to pick them up for casual labour.

GRTU is driving government to assess the situation and organise the market. GRTU is suggesting the establishment of an Immigrant Worker Recruitment Agency. Employers who seek casual labour and prefer to employ the immigrant worker will contact the Agency and make a formal request identifying what kind of jobs they have to offer. The Agency sends the workers and the Agency gets paid by the Employer while the Employer abides by the rules of the agency. Social contribution, food and drink, if so requested are deducted and employers pay the minimum wage.

As things stand today, GRTU argues, chaos reigns and gross injustice occurs and yes, the real victim is the employer and not all the immigrants workers are nice heart of gold, emphasised Vince Farrugia on behalf of GRTU members, "there's nothing the straight to heaven brigade needs worry about. We all want to go to heaven after all, but not at another person's expense".


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