Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today apologised for controversial comments he made last week where he said he’d prefer seeing foreign workers employed in menial jobs like trash collectors rather than Maltese workers.
In reply to questions asked at a press conference in Valletta this morning, Muscat said that the way his message was delivered was not what he had meant to say, according to the Malta Independent.
He continued by saying he understood that some people had been offended by his comments, and apologised for them
Muscat had made the controversial remarks during his first televised debate with Opposition Leader Adrian Delia on the TVM show Xtra.
“I want the Maltese youths to take the skilled jobs,” he had said. “When I have a choice, my choice is that the Maltese become doctors, teachers and managers, and then I would bring in foreigners to go to work in the sun all day. If possible I don’t want Maltese people to go and pick up rubbish outside. All work is dignified, but I don’t want a situation where foreigners are comfortable and the Maltese break their backs.”
Many in Malta felt that his comments laughed in the face of the Labour Party’s supposed socialist roots
Cami Appelgren, a Swedish PD MEP candidate, reacted to the comments by saying: “During my early school years, I took extra hours helping neighbours cutting the lawn, walking dogs, babysitting or cleaning houses. It taught me to respect the manual labourers. It is a tough job. Was I less intelligent because I didn’t dream of becoming a manager or a doctor? No. I had mostly straight A’s in school, yet what I ended up doing was becoming a diving instructor in Malta. A job you would see as less worthy, but you know what? That diving job together with my highest respect for manual labour, made me clean Malta out of civic pride.”
The Secretary General of the General Worker’s Union Josef Bugeja also commented on the controversy, saying that “all work was dignified”.