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Muscat promises to safeguard workers' rights

A Labour government would disqualify companies that employ people precariously from bidding for government tenders, Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat announced this afternoon.

Dr Muscat acknowledged that there had been some similar commitment from the government’s end but insisted this was not enough and stressed that in practice, many companies subcontracted with the government still employed people on terms which are either bordering on the illegal or outright illegal.

He said workers who were employed under such conditions should not fear Labour because this measure was designed to eradicate this sort of abuse and raise employment standards.It would also create a level playing field, through which employers who did not resort to these practices would not be under-cut by abusive companies who treated their employees badly.

The proposal, was one of three pledges made by Dr Muscat in connection with work, which he said, formed part of a more detailed set of measures which the party would be announcing in the coming days.

He was speaking at a press conference held in St John’s Street, Valletta, symbolically chosen for the fact that Manwel Dimech had been born there and Nerik Mizzi lived there.

Dr Muscat said a Labour government if trusted with power, would also create a charter for workers that would be discussed with both unions and employers. He said the charter would not substitute the employment law, but would incorporate its principles in a charter that would be published and distributed to all citizens.

“In our consultation with people, we often found that non-unionised workers would fall victims to abusive situations because they simply do not know their rights or fall prey to myths, essentially, that stem from lack of knowledge about their rights.

The third pledge was a commitment to new training programmes, over and above the schemes announced by the government during the Budget, which, he said, Labour would keep.

Asked for more concrete details on the sort of training programmes Labour, had in mind, Dr Muscat said these pledges formed part of a broader group of measures of which Oppositon will be giving details in the coming days. “You will appreciate that this is a long campaign and there is still quite a way to go,” he said.

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