The Malta Independent 23 February 2024, Friday
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GWU welcomes radical employment law that 'will curb exploitation'

Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 12:44 Last update: about 4 months ago

The General Workers Union on Tuesday welcomed a radical legal change in the laws for temporary employment and recruitment agencies, currently being debated in the House of Representatives. 

GWU Secretary General Josef Bugeja said the trade union had long been insisting on such requirements for contractors that outsource employees to businesses, and welcomed the new legislation, which he said is expected to reduce the abuse of migrant workers, expected to enter into force in 2024. 

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“We hope that, through this legislation, the exploitation of workers, especially foreign nationals, will stop. We do need foreign workers that contribute to our economic growth, but nobody can take advantage of the system unfairly, to the detriment of these workers,” Bugeja said. 

Bugeja said that many migrant workers had ended up in abusive employment situations. “It is even affecting Maltese workers who end up being employed by these agencies, rather than by a company directly, and then exploited by such agencies. These workers end up having no choice but to be systematically exploited, while other colleagues employed directly by a company are entitled to different rights and conditions,” Bugeja added. 

“As we have always stated, much as we welcome a level-playing field for such operators, we call upon Government to introduce the principle for equal pay for equal work. This is what is needed for the progression of workers’ rights: they must be paid what they deserve on the value of the work they provide.” 

The proposed law will grant just one licence for each recruiter of workers for employment in Malta or abroad, or to act as a temporary work or outsourcing agency. 

As of January 2024, no such employment can be carried out unlicensed, and each agency must have a competent person who must be either Maltese or of EU nationality, with experience in human resources. 

Additionally, several criteria have been introduced to ensure the eligibility of applicants for such licences that provide employment to any business, as well as giving visibility of such operators to the authorities, and ensure that such workers are engaged for required skills and jobs, preventing any possible abuse. 

Companies without this licence risk being disqualified from public procurement contracts and will be denied any permission to source foreign workers. 

Bugeja said that through continuous monitoring, the GWU believes that the working conditions of such workers will be improved, while ensuring that only those foreign workers required for particular skills and jobs, will be brought to the country. “This will lead to increased control and visibility over which workers come and also in which sectors they will be working,” Bugeja said. 

 

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