The General Workers’ Union (GWU) has made a call for amendments in Employment Regulations so that the principle of equal pay for the same work be widened to cover all employees in all entities, including those who are not in direct employment with them. The GWU identified employees with contractors who are stated to be in precarious employment.
It is also insisting that all employees in Malta benefit from the same rights that all employees should enjoy, irrespective of whether they are from EU countries or other countries.
In the service that follows we discuss with the Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) regarding the manpower shortages in the labour field as well as the trends of Maltese employees.
For the MEA Director General, Joe Farrugia, the majority of companies give preference to Maltese employees. He maintained that the increase in foreign employees is due to lack of human resource as well as lack of job skills. Farrugia said this is happening despite the fact the fact there is a high rate of work-force participation, including that of women and the elderly who opt to continue working after retirement age.
Farrugia asked whether the system would continue to function without foreign employees and said that in the current circumstances it would not. He said that in economic sectors that had registered growth, such as the construction industry, it is now being heard that Turkish employees are to be employed. With the current number of projects in hand we do not have sufficient human resource.
He also did not deny that Maltese people are now avoiding certain types of work.
Joe Farrugia said everybody is considering their options and if for example one does not want to work during the weekend, the tourist sector is avoided and this is causing problems in certain sectors.
The GWU does not have any objections to the engagement of foreign employees and insists that their rights be safeguarded. In the words of Secretary General Josef Bugeja, in entities where the GWU has recognition it ensures that foreign employees are covered by the same Collective Agreements and therefore enjoy the same pay and conditions as Maltese employees. He explained that in private enterprises a problem occurs when workers are not employed directly by the company but are employed by a contractor and payment for the same work is less.
Bugeja said that certain services are outsourced to a contractor, such as security services and cleaning services and therefore the concept of equal pay as stipulated by Employment Regulations and is the basis of law in the sector, is not being exercised.
Asked about the extent of this problem, Bugeja said it is widespread in the private sector and when asked to quantify this, he said that during the latest MCESD meeting he had asked how many of the 55,000 foreign employees and employment opportunities being created are directly employed by companies or contractors. Against this background the GWU is mounting a campaign with clear aims.
He said the Government is being asked to amend current legislation so that those concerned and those employed by contractors are covered by a Collective Agreement.
Bugeja said the GWU has about 6,000 foreigners as members in a specific section and he explained the section not only helps them in employment matters but other factors that affect their lives.