Busuttil hits out at scheme that ‘tampers with unemployment figures’

Opposition leader warns several school cleaners are in precarious employment, criticises government for billing parents whose sick children don't attend its free childcare services  

Photo: Ray Attard
Photo: Ray Attard

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil accused the government of introducing an employment scheme “simply to magically reduce unemployment figures”.

During a debate in Parliament on the Budget, Busuttil called for details on this scheme, including the identity of the company that will take up several currently unemployed people, and the conditions that these new workers would be subjected to.

“No wonder unemployment is declining if the government is placing unemployed people on schemes, simply to pretend that they aren’t unemployed,” he said.

The PN leader warned that several school cleaners are on precarious employment, with their contracts renewed every three months.

“The education minister admitted, cool as you like, that several schools renew their cleaning services contracts every three months, which means that these cleaners are working precariously,” he said.

He also hit out at the government for billing parents up to €2000 whose children are absent from childcare centres.

“Some parents are now sending their children to childcare centres even though they’re sick, simply to avoid receiving exorbitant bills,” he said. “These children then spread their sicknesses to their classmates. The Opposition had praised the government for introducing free childcare, but it has managed to deceive the public even here.”  

‘Historically high subsidy for shoddy bus service’

Busuttil criticised the government for providing €432 million in subsidy over a 15 year period to bus operator Autobuses de Leon, rubbishing transport minister Joe Mizzi’s negotiation bills.

“Never in this country’s history has a company been given such a large subsidy,” he said over shouts from Joe Mizzi. “It could be acceptable if the bus service has improved but it has declined since Arriva’s days.

He claimed that bus ticket prices have increased, ostensibly referring to tickets bought directly off buses and not through the tallinja card.  

He also lambasted Malta Public Transport for negotiating favourable diesel prices, suggesting that they shouldn’t pay any less than regular car users “who are getting robbed at the pump”.

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