Injuries involving undocumented workers on construction sites can cause serious anxiety for everyone involved – including their Maltese colleagues.
As legal workers, Maltese construction workers are often put in uncomfortable positions, wanting to ensure their colleagues are okay while also not wanting to risk the wrath of their employer if they are doing something shady.
“I’ve never seen anyone on a site I’ve worked on throw a worker away after they were injured – but I have had bosses who tell us ‘call me first and let me know’ before we call the ambulance,” Adrian Zammit, social media influencer and construction worker told Lovin Malta.
Zammit has worked in the industry for years with different companies across the island and has seen firsthand what can happen on site when employers opt to employ migrant workers illegally.
Employers then need to continuously watch over the site to make sure their illegal workers – who are also desperate to find a job and oftentimes need to work – do not end up revealing the illegalities in their operations.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that medics can get angry at construction workers who move the body of their colleague after an injury as they are awaiting the ambulance. Zammit recounted an incident where a colleague fell into a pile of water, and they moved him as it was during winter and very cold… only for ambulance workers to chastise workers for moving him and putting him at risk of further injury.
All of this just adds to the anxiety of working on a construction site, which, by its very nature, can be a risky place to work.
“When a worker doesn’t have a permit, bosses and other workers get anxious about it… but if they have an accident, still, at the very least go to a private clinic instead of Mater Dei Hospital – to just leave him somewhere by himself is really rough,” he said.
Zammit was referring to the recent case of Lamin Jaiteh, the migrant worker who was injured on a Mellieħa construction site and subsequently abandoned on a dirt road in Selmun.
Surprised and shocked that it happen, Zammit said that “not even an animal should be abandoned like that”.
Saying he couldn’t understand how something like that happened, he believed it stemmed from panic after the injury.
“It’s like when drug users overdose… everyone panics and people just try to hide the body, instead of helping them,” he said.
A protest will be held on Saturday 30th October in Valletta at 11am calling for justice following the Lamin Jaiteh incident
What do you make of Zammit’s perspective?