The Malta Independent 9 December 2019, Monday

Number of Turkish workers coming to Malta depends on contracts awarded – TACA

Rachel Attard Sunday, 3 March 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

The number of Turkish workers coming to Malta depends on the contracts awarded to the company that employs them, the Malta Independent on Sunday has learnt.

In  recent weeks, a number of Turkish workers have been flown into Malta by TACA construction company to work on a number of major private projects. Various media reports have said that the Turkish company is paying these employees less than the Maltese minimum wage stipulated by law. TACA is one of a number of international construction companies that submitted a bid for the redevelopment of the Fortina Hotel in Sliema and the DB Group's City Centre project on the former ITS site in St Julian's.

This newsroom sent a number of questions to TACA regarding the number of Turkish workers being brought to Malta and their conditions of employment. The Times of Malta had originally reported that the company was expected to bring over 2,500 workers, but a few days later Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the number was around 500.

However, when asked for a figure, TACA said: "The number of employees will depend on the contracts TACA Construction secures. This will vary at any given time because of the nature of the work. We envisage that for the Fortina project we will likely require 250 workers at its peak."

Asked how long these workers were expected to stay in Malta, TACA: "That depends on the contractual work. TACA Construction has a reputation for turning around projects in short time periods."

With regard to the working conditions that these workers will have, TACA told this newsroom: "All the workers coming to Malta are in possession of the necessary documentation. The 78 workers presently in Malta are receiving an average monthly salary of €1,450. We stress that none of the workers who will be employed with TACA Construction now - and in the future -  will be paid less than Malta's minimum wage."

Malta's minimum wage is currently €747 a month, compared to the Turkish minimum wage which is €380, half that of Malta. This newsroom is informed that a number of Turkish workers will be keeping half their salary in a Maltese bank account and the other half in a Turkish account, in order to sustain their families back home.

In addition, TACA said that its workers "will also be provided with free private healthcare, free accommodation and three meals a day over and above their salary. All workers will have the same conditions in terms of benefits."

This newsroom is informed that the workers currently in Malta are all skilled and the majority of them are engineers.

Asked about the fact that TACA's original plan was to house their employees in a temporary village in Mqabba, the company said: "Following the Planning Authority's decision, TACA Construction decided to drop its plans to set up a temporary village and will instead be housing its employees in apartments. The 78 workers who are in Malta are currently staying in hotels and we are in the process of identifying apartments in which they can stay. We are guests in Malta and we abide by the rules."

Jobsplus had a number of meeting with TACA - sources

Sources close to Jobsplus told this newsroom that a number of meetings and investigations had been carried out with TACA and so far the company is not breaching any working directives' conditions.

The sources said that the company is paying all its workers above the Maltese minimum wage. This includes not only the skilled workers who are in Malta at the moment but also the Turkish construction workers that are yet to come.

Jobsplus has also checked their living conditions and confirmed that they are being treated fairly and in accordance with Maltese employment legislation.

Sources also confirmed with this newsroom that all the Turkish workers that are in Malta and those who still need to come have a permit that was issued by Jobsplus.

 

We are committed to closing loopholes to protect Third Country Nationals - OPM

"The Government has conducted a number of investigations into this matter and these do not show that Turkish workers are being paid below the Maltese minimum wage," The Malta Independent on Sunday has learnt.

This newsroom posed a number of questions to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with regard to the working and living conditions of these workers and whether or not they have work permits. A spokesperson from the OPM said: "Local authorities have been reassured about the living conditions of workers and all of them have been provided with a work permit."

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said: "My main concern was about how these workers will be accommodated and what they will be paid," adding that it was unacceptable for workers to be housed in tents.

"If the laws about suitable accommodation are not observed, the permits will not be issued and if they have already been issued, they will be withdrawn. The contractor has been warned about this," the PM said. Malta had to abide by the EU's Posting of Workers Directive, which regulates how EU companies can post workers to other EU member states. While it has been said that the directive needs to be changed, no third-country contractor will be allowed to use legal loopholes in order to exploit workers or place Maltese workers and companies at an unfair advantage, he said.

In view of what Muscat said, this newsroom asked the OPM to explain what the government is going to do. An OPM spokesperson said: "The Government has established that there is a loophole which can be used by companies outside the European Union, posting their employees who are considered Third Country Nationals (TCN), to Malta in the working conditions they are paid in the country of origin.

"The government is committed to closing such loopholes to avoid TCNs posted in Malta being paid below the minimum wage and work to this end has already started.  This will not only safeguard the rights of these workers but will also protect work for Maltese, according to all the legal conditions that our strong labour laws allow."

What does our labour law stipulate when it comes to TCN workers?

According to Article 5 of the Subsidiary legislation 452.82 Posting of Workers in Malta Regulations, the law stipulates that the conditions of work which are given to posted employees who have notified their intention to work in Malta shall not be less than the minimum conditions of work given to a comparable employee by virtue of the Act, or any regulations issued thereunder or by virtue of any other legislation regulating the class of employment of the posted employee in the same place of work:

Provided that any allowances specific to the posting granted to the posted employee, shall be considered to be part of the wage payable to a comparable employee, unless they are paid as reimbursement of expenses actually incurred on account of the posting, including expenditure on travel, board and lodging.

(2)  All posted employees covered by these regulations shall be entitled to receive quality of treatment as the comparable employees and in particular they shall have equal access to employment rights and health and safety rights under Maltese law.

(3)  The term 'equality of treatment' shall, for the purposes of these regulations, consist of:

(a)  maximum work periods and minimum rest periods as applied to various classes of employees;

(b)  minimum paid annual holidays as applied to various classes of employees;

(c)  minimum rates  of  pay,  including  overtime  rates  as applied to various classes of employees;

(d)  equality  of  treatment  between  men  and  women  and other provisions of non-discrimination in accordance with the laws of Malta;

(e)  protective measures  with  regards  to  terms  and conditions of employment protecting pregnant women or women who have given birth a short while before;

(f)  protective  measures  in  accordance  with  the  laws  of Malta  with  regards  to  terms  and  conditions  of employment protecting children and young people;

(g)  measures in accordance with the laws of Malta relating to health, safety and hygiene at work;

(h)  the conditions of hiring out of workers, in particular the  supply  of  workers  by

 temporary employment undertakings:

Provided  that  in  cases  of  initial  assembly  and,  or  first installation of goods where such activity is an integral part of contract for the supply of goods necessary for taking the goods supplied into use and carried out by the skilled and, or specialist workers of the supplying organisation, paragraphs (b) and (c) shall not apply if the period of posting does not exceed eight days, so long as the work involved is not related to all building work relating to construction, repair, upkeep, alteration or demolition of buildings, and in particular excavation, earth moving, actual building work, assembly and dismantling of prefabricated elements, fitting out or installation, alterations, renovation, repairs, dismantling, demolition, maintenance, upkeep, painting and cleaning work and improvements:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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