The Community Work Scheme administered by the General Workers’ Union is now employing 839 people – 503 in Malta and 336 in Gozo.

The scheme was set up in 2016 and was meant to find employment for 600 people registering for work, taking over from the programme until then run by the Employment and Training Corporation (now JobsPlus).

The workers were struck off the public register and are categorised by the National Statistics Office as being in private sector employment because they are on the books of a private foundation owned by the GWU.

In January 2017, the scheme had been declared “full” as there were no more vacancies left.

The contract – awarded after a public tender which attracted three bids – was to earn the union more than €8.5 million over five years.

Read: GWU will earn €8.5m from government jobless scheme - ministry says it will earn less

The contract stipulates that as from February 1, 2016 and for the following five years, a new non-profit foundation set up by the GWU will employ and take over the management of some 600 long-term unemployed from the books of Jobs Plus.

In compensation, the foundation is to be given an ‘operational fee’ of €980 a month per employee, from which it should pay the new full-timers the standard minimum wage.

The foundation’s employees are assigned work with either local councils or other government departments and their pay cheques come from public funds.

Responding to a parliamentary question by MP Chris Said, Labour Minister Evarist Bartolo said that training of the individuals depended on the needs of the employer in question, and that JobsPlus held not information about this.

In December 2016, there were 139,019 private sector workers and 45,161 private sector employees, according to the NSO. By December 2017, the number of private sector workers had gone up to 148,747, while those in the public sector also increased to 46,527.

There were 2,912 people registering as unemployed in December 2016 – which fell by 702 to 2,167 by December 2017.

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