Community work scheme workers to eventually receive same pay as ordinary employees
Scheme being administered by GWU
Updated 5.43pm - Added GWU statement
Workers employed under the community work scheme would “eventually” be paid the same as ordinary workers, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said today.
Speaking to the press after a news conference announcing the setting up of a National Skills Council, Mr Bartolo said the contentious scheme was part of a “journey towards equal pay for equal work”.
The scheme was thrust into the national spotlight following a Freedom of Information request filed by this newspaper brought to light a copy of the contracts signed between the government and the General Workers’ Union, which is administering the scheme.
Mr Bartolo said the union had beat two other private sector applicants, clinching the tender for €980 per participant, estimated to be close to 600 individuals.
He said that the scheme, first launched in 2009, had previously not even classified those enrolled as employees.
“There have been cases where individuals were injured at the place of work but were not entitled to injury or sick leave or any other form of compensation. Those who signed up were entitled to up to 75 per cent of the minimum wage,” he said.
Employment and Training Corporation Executive Chairman Clyde Caruana said that when he took over the ETC, there was no record of what those enrolled were even doing.
“We inherited quite a mess and have already managed to improve so much,” he said.
Earlier today, PN spokesman Carm Mifsud Bonnici had spoken against the scheme, saying it was "scandalous" that the GWU would be profiting off vulnerable people.
That accusation was rebutted by the GWU, which noted that a similar scheme created by the previous administration had run along similar lines, with workers paid just 75 per cent of the minimum wage.
The union quoted an August 2009 article published in The Malta Independent, in which then-parliamentary secretary Chris Said had explained that the scheme would be "monitored by a private entity" to ensure local councils could focus their energies on other areas.
"Arguments being put forward by certain Nationalist elements are therefore not attacks on the scheme itself, but rather against the fact that the GWU Foundation is running it," the union said.