Labour’s deputy leader has urged the catering industry to offer better salaries to its staff and the government to clamp down on all types of abusive and precarious work.
During the PL general conference last weekend, Daniel Micallef touched upon the notorious staff shortage within the catering industry, a problem that has been exacerbated by the departure of several foreign workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He argued that the industry should tackle this problem by making conditions more attractive to Maltese workers.
“We often hear that there aren’t enough workers and in certain sectors it’s true,” he said. “For example, [Transport Minister] Ian Borg recently explained how there are several opportunities in the maritime sector but not enough people to take up the jobs.”
“However, with regards to other sectors, we should ask whether they are offering conditions that attract Maltese youths and workers. I can’t understand how salaries which I used to earn as a student waiter 20 years ago are still being offered today.”
To cheers from the audience, he said the PL should take an unequivocal stance against abusive and precarious work practices – regardless the nationality of the workers involved.
“Although measures were introduced in recent years, there’s still a lot that must take place and ventilators that still need to be closed. Our message must be that we must build on all that workers have achieved through the PL’s strength and not let these achievements erode.”
“The government is obliged to ensure these practices are eroded and no excuse should be acceptable.”
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association recently urged the government to react to the labour shortage within the tourism industry by exempting tax on overtime and part-time revenue for workers in the sector.
“We need to do all what is needed to attract and retain employees working in the tourism industry even during such difficult times, as if we get this wrong then the repercussions can be serious,” the MHRA said.
“We live in very difficult and uncertain times and now is the time when all our efforts must be jointly focused on sustainable solutions”.
However, ADPD recently called a press conference to decry the MHRA’s call as “shameful”.
“They forget to tell us the real reasons why some of their workers chose to leave the sector,” ADPD candidate Sandra Gauci said. “These workers are so poorly paid, with a large number of them on zero-hour contracts that they do not even reach the income brackets to pay income tax.”
“The MHRA is asking for schemes and help from government to entice workers to remain in the sector, when in fact it is their working conditions which is the problem, poor wages and zero-hour contracts.”
“It is an insult to ask for special exemptions on overtime such that workers will have to work for long hours to perhaps make a decent income.”
Do you think the catering industry should offer higher salaries?