The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: Poaching from the private sector

Friday, 26 November 2021, 10:41 Last update: about 3 months ago

Once again, constituted bodies have lamented the loss of human resources to the public sector.

Five organisations – the Malta Employers’ Association, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, the Malta Chamber of SMEs, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Gozo Business Chamber – are calling upon the government “to put an immediate halt on the drain of human resources from the private sector”.

Employees, they say in a statement issued Tuesday, are resigning “haphazardly” to take up what “is perceived to be a more secure job with less work pressure in government entities”. This is forcing companies to reduce their operations as a result of a shortage of manpower. The organisations said that the “government is employing a greater percentage of the Maltese labour force, with companies compensating for labour shortfalls” by engaging more foreigners.

Such a phenomenon is not uncommon, but it seems that the complaints from the private sector in this regard are always more common in the months preceding an election. It so happens that the government, each time an election is approaching, makes it a point to carry out a recruitment exercise which hits the private sector big time.

One understands the government’s needs to replace workers who retire, but what the organisations are referring to are cases when people are employed as a favour, in a bid to secure votes at the election. This means that the number of workers in the public sector grows exponentially without there being a need for such recruitment which, in turn, will add to the government’s own expenses.

It must also be remembered that the wages of the employees in the public sector is sustained by the taxes paid by employers and employees in the private sector, and the depletion of the private sector could therefore impact the generation of tax revenue, the organisations say.

It is common knowledge that the number of workers in government employment is much higher than what is needed. On the contrary, companies in the private sector employ the bare minimum so as to keep their costs low.

Companies then have to deal with a constant turnover of employees who leave to join the public sector, a situation that negatively affects their productivity and adds pressure on the employees who remain loyal to the company they work for. It is a vicious circle that private companies would gladly do without – new staff requires to be trained, but very often it happens that once the learning process is over, these employees leave to join the public sector and the recruitment/training process has to start all over again.

The complaints that were raised this week have been made in the past weeks and months, but the government has not reacted to them. This can be interpreted to mean that the constituted bodies are correct in their assessment, and the government is not in a position to give a valid reason for its recruitment drive.

The government has a duty to be of assistance to the private sector. The poaching of employees is not the way to do it.

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