Little sympathy for foreign workers facing job losses

DOI: Pierre Sammut

Non-EU citizens in low-income jobs who are facing the loss of their livelihood as a result of the coronavirus outbreak found little sympathy in parliament today, with Economy Minister Silvio Schembri emphasising that they would be sent home as soon as their job is terminated.

In today’s parliamentary sitting, which was devoted to the coronavirus pandemic, the matter was brought up by the Nationalist Party’s home affairs spokesman Beppe Fenech Adami, who framed their plight as a security concern.

“This country has built its economy on a large number of foreign workers, working in a number of sectors and paid close to minimum wage,” Fenech Adami said.

He warned that hundreds – if not thousands – were facing the loss of their jobs, and that their wages did not allow them to save up anything. Consequently, he said, Malta should be prepared for a possible spike in crime, particularly theft.

‘Charity begins at home’

Schembri touched upon the issue in his speech, which focused on the government’s planned measures to address the economic impact of the pandemic.

“I may receive criticism for this, but I will be clear: charity begins at home. Our primary intention will be to guarantee the jobs of the Maltese,” the minister said.

Non-EU citizens, Schembri added, “lose their work permit when their job is terminated, and once that happens they must return to their country.”

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