If the government planned to fight precarious jobs it should directly employ care workers, security personnel and cleaners rather than rely on services provided by private companies, the General Workers’ Union said.

People in such jobs were often underpaid and did not benefit from adequate working conditions, GWU general secretary Tony Zarb said yesterday when addressing the annual conference of the union’s government and public entities section.

“The union will be insisting that the government employs these groups of workers to end the abuse and lead by example,” Mr Zarb said.

Government entities often resort to private contractors for such services and unions have been critical of some contracts that were awarded given that the remuneration given for the service is below the legal minimum wage.

Care workers, security personnel and cleaners are mostly employed by on a part-time basis even though they sometimes work full-time hours. This arrangement means workers are effectively denied the rights enjoyed by full-time employees.

“Workers were not promised precarious jobs but good employment conditions like those found in Europe but they are realising now they were deceived,” Mr Zarb said.

He said the union section was involved in talks on the collective agreement for government employees and was vigilant on the proposals being made. “The union will not accept new systems that might not be in workers’ best interests,” he said.

Mr Zarb condemned the actions of “an individual” at the Institute for Tourism Studies “who preferred to talk with officials from another union rather than the GWU”. He said some government exponents were putting spokes in the wheels to deny the GWU official representation in various public entities.