Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday spoke on planned legislation to regulate temping agencies and completely ignored a report in The Sunday Times of Malta on benefit fraud by a former Labour MP.
Speaking on One Radio, Abela said the government will be introducing new legislation to regulate employment agencies that import foreign workers and reiterated statements he made earlier this week that the government will not support businesses that focus solely on importing foreign workers.
The government, he said, will incentivise temping agencies that are serious, but those that exploit workers for their own gain will not be tolerated.
A temping agency provides contract workers to local companies. Such workers are subcontracted to companies but are technically employed by recruitment agencies.
Cleaners, security guards, nurses, and even some catering employees have been employed via such agencies.
In November, Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul said talks were under way to regulate these agencies and that unlicenced temporary employment agencies could be barred from bidding for public contracts.
While Abela gave no details on the legislation, a party spokesperson told Times of Malta this is in its “final stages” and further details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Abela said the government cannot tolerate businesses that benefit from exploiting this economic model. These businesses, he said, have brought about a number of inconveniences to society.
He said serious standards will be put in place which will lead to a more rigorous process for temping agencies to gain a licence.
“The reality is anyone could wake up one day and decide to open a temping agency, just like that, and this was actually happening at one point,” Abela said.
“Serious agencies will be incentivised and, as a government, we will support them. But those that work in an abusive manner should watch out..."
"We need to have rigid and right legislation...
“You may ask if the introduction of such standards will bring worry to the sector, yes it will worry those who are abusing the system.”
A “few businesses”, he noted, were importing as many workers as they could afford to save money. By doing so, they are keeping work conditions for these workers, as well as for Maltese and Gozitans, unfavourable.
“We cannot tolerate an economic model that limits the advancement of our local workers and stops them moving forward,” he said.
"Our economic model is based on quality, not quantity," he added.
Businesses that have a digital and environmental core,as well as those that prioritise workers, will continue to find the government's support, he promised.
Malta to lead in renewable energy
Abela also spoke about how the setting up of exclusive economic zones will turn Malta into a hub of renewable energy.
Earlier in the week, the country launched for consultation its first national policy for offshore renewable energy. Six sites have been identified as potential areas where the floating farms could be located.
“We have a vision for our country to be a leader in this field," he said.
The main objective of this investment is to produce clean energy and establish sustainable prices for everyone, the Prime Minister added.