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Konrad Mizzi’s WSC offering 150 new jobs

Ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Fearne are rivals in the fourth district.

Ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Fearne are rivals in the fourth district.

Dozens of new fitters have started being recruited at the Water Services Corporation (WSC) in what appears to be a vote mobilisation campaign for embattled Minister Konrad Mizzi, The Sunday Times of Malta is informed.

The recruitment drive shows that Dr Mizzi, who is in charge of the country’s energy and water supply, is seeking to consolidate his chances of re-election.

About 150 prospective employees, mainly residing in Fgura, Paola, Sta Lucija and Tarxien – Dr Mizzi’s electoral district – received letters from the WSC informing them that they have been selected to start working at the government entity as fitters and to report for work last week.

Signed by former GWU deputy secretary general Michael Parnis, as HR personal advisor to the WSC chairman Mario Zammit, the letter offers its recipients a job as “multi skilled fitter level 3”, entitled to a salary of €15,488 a year.

If all those invited take up the offer, the WSC will increase its workforce by 15 per cent in only a few weeks and will see its wage bill rise by more than €2 million a year.

The new employees were carefully selected from the alternative register of JobsPlus, bypassing the need for the WSC to issue a proper public call.

“The recruitment of these new employees has been in the pipeline for a long time, as many Labour voters were promised a government job,” a senior WSC official told this newspaper.

These people were told to register for alternative employment in the past months so that they could be selected for an interview and offered a job without the need to issue a call or even apply. It seems that the election is close

“These people were told to register for alternative employment in the past months so that they could be selected for an interview and offered a job without the need to issue a call or even apply. It seems that the election is close.

“As the minister, Konrad Mizzi must have given the go-ahead to implement this plan,” the official added. Asked to confirm the recruitment of some 150 new fitters and to explain the need for such a massive intake, a spokesman for the WSC did not reply.

Dr Mizzi was asked for an explanation of this unprecedented recruitment at a state agency under his remit but he too failed to answer questions.

The WSC – responsible for the provision of water on the island – is already over staffed. Since Labour came into power, its workforce reached 1000 employees by May 2016, about 70 above the level of May 2013.

The recruitment of more employees at the WSC is having political repercussions, particularly among rival Labour candidates vying for votes on the fourth electoral district.

“It’s open war on our district, with Konrad Mizzi offering goodies to all those who will potentially vote for him,” one Labour candidate told this newspaper, preferring to remain anonymous. “People from his secretariat are continuously calling constituents offering the ministry’s services, including jobs,” he said.

Dr Mizzi’s latest manoeuvre has led to complaints being made by rival candidates to the Prime Minster, accusing the minister of “playing abusively”.

“So far the Prime Minister is turning a blind eye and seems set to continue giving free reign to Dr Mizzi,” another Labour candidate said.

According to internal fourth district polls, conducted by one of Labour’s candidates, Dr Mizzi seems to be the most popular Labour candidate on the district despite his four-year record of controversies – from the employment of his wife Sai as a government envoy in a €13,000-a-month contract to his involvement in the Panama Papers.

Polls show that he is followed by Health Minister Chris Fearne and sitting MPs Etienne Grech and Silvio Parnis.

Polls also suggest that as things stand, Mr Parnis, elected on the Labour ticket since 1998, is the most likely to lose his seat as Labour does not seem to be in a position to repeat the 2013 result and return four MPs to Parliament from this district.

Despite being the longest serving Labour MP on the fourth electoral district, Mr Parnis was not given a ministerial portfolio by Prime Minster Joseph Muscat.

Efforts to contact Mr Parnis proved futile by the time of writing.

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