Turks import 500 workers for Fortina and DB

The Turkish company, Taca Construction is expected to bring over some 500 workers to be employed on two large scale projects in Sliema, and St George’s Bay MaltaToday has learnt

Industry sources have told MaltaToday that Taca Construction will initially import some 300 workers
Industry sources have told MaltaToday that Taca Construction will initially import some 300 workers

A Turkish construction firm is expected to bring over some 500 workers to be employed on two large scale projects in Sliema and St George’s Bay, MaltaToday is informed.

Turkish company, Taca Construction, will be carrying out works on the Fortina redevelopment in Sliema and DB’s City Centre project on the former ITS site. Both projects involve the construction high-rise towers.

Industry sources have told MaltaToday that Taca Construction will initially import some 300 workers.

“The number of Turkish workers is expected to rise to some 500 eventually,” the sources said, insisting that rumours that Taca would be bringing over 2,500 workers were incorrect.

It remains unclear so far where the Turkish workers will be lodged.

The Planning Authority last week inspected a quarry in Mqabba where it was alleged that the workers were being housed in prefabricated homes, finding no evidence of this but issuing an enforcement order for an illegally constructed tent.

However, an enforcement notice issued by the PA describes the infringement as the “change of use from approved offices to residential unit, change of use of part of the quarry to an open storage yard not related to the quarrying operations, placing of containers and erection of a tented structure on top of the containers without a permit”.

It is understood that Taca will be paying the workers the legal minimum wage, a situation that has raised concern over undercutting in the sector.

Attempts to contact Taca proved futile, while DB Group CEO Arthur Gauci said he could not comment on commercial arrangements, noting however, that anyone operating in the country needed to abide by its laws.

Fortina director Michael Zammit Tabona also refused to comment, saying “the rest was up to the contractor” who had “won an international tender which was open to everyone”.

The General Workers Union yesterday said that any foreigners working in Malta should benefit from the same rights enjoyed by Maltese workers, irrespective of whether they are EU citizens or third country nationals.  

The union said that while it appreciated that the country was experiencing a “shortage of construction workers”, it reminded those working in the sector to join the union in order for their salaries and working conditions to be safeguarded.  

“GWU also appeals to all responsible authorities to ensure that such workers have all the necessary protections under Maltese employment law, decent accommodation and a wage high enough for them to live with dignity in the country,” the union said.

It added that the union did not wish to see the construction of campsites for foreign workers that would isolate them from the remainder of society.

Asked whether the same employment regulations would apply in the case of workers brought over from Turkey, a spokesperson for the General Workers Union said this depended on the nationality, type of employment contract, as well as whether the place of work is organised in a trade union.

“In this case, where the Turkish foreign workers are employed by Turkish company with a Turkish employment contract, Malta’s minimum wage should still apply,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson noted that if on the other hand, such third country nationals are employed by a Maltese employer, they benefit from all working conditions stipulated by law.

“Our economic success should not be driven by cheap labour and a new form of precarious employment,” the spokesperson said, adding that it should instead serve as a driving force to improve working conditions. “The forces of the free market economy should be directed by social mobility.”  

On Friday, the Malta Developers Association also stressed that any foreign workers in Malta should enjoy the same rights and conditions as Maltese workers.  

“It is the duty of the Maltese regulatory authorities to ensure that foreign workers imported for specific jobs being carried out by foreign contractors are not subjected to unacceptable conditions that would also give an unfair advantage to foreign contractors at the expense of their own workers,” the MDA cautioned.

The association also appealed to the Finance Ministry to ensure that foreign contractors are subjected to the same level of taxation as the Maltese contractors.

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