Shame on those developers, construction companies, catering establishments, cleaning companies and others who are exploiting foreign workers at will, circumventing employment regu­lations and paying these people peanuts. Have we no decency left? Is money the one and only consideration? These people have rights, dignity and families to live for.

So many of these people are being treated like animals and even forced to live in terrible conditions and in groups, just to survive. The Turkish workers brought over to Malta to work in construction, with all its dangers and back-breaking activity, are being given the minimum wage. Though some can term this as good when compared to what they earn at home, it remains blatant exploitation at its worst because such work deserves decent pay at normal rates, and it endangers other workers’ pay.

The icing on the cake is the news that poor Indian workers are being paid as low as one euro per hour and this is not even paid directly to them but sent to India and taxed further by their agent. What a racket! This is abuse staring us in the face! Have we become so insensitive to the plight of these fellow human beings? What next? Bangladeshi-style sweatshops?

It is sad and shocking to hear persons in authority, those at the very top, who can do something about all this, speak in clear classist terms, if not racist too, about keeping the comfortable jobs for the Maltese and relegate the hard, dirty jobs to the foreigners. This attitude downgrades the dignity of all work and of all people. It is short-sighted, populist and egocentric to an extreme. 

Pope Francis was right when he wrote about the ‘Economy of exclusion’ where the poor of our society are victims of those who are insatiably profit-mad. These poor are not only excluded but thrown out and discarded. These are the new faces of Lazarus eating the crumbs at the rich man’s table. We must be careful not to be part of this inhumanity, directly or indirectly.

I pray to God to open people’s hearts and put flesh and mercy and love where there is only hard stone. We can still change our ways. 


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