[WATCH] Union boss urges people not to use food courier services that are akin to 'slave labour'

Xtra on TVM | Malta’s two largest unions agree that Gig workers in the food courier service need to be protected at law from ‘slave labour’

A number of recruitment companies supplying migrant workers to food delivery platforms are in breach of Malta’s employment laws
A number of recruitment companies supplying migrant workers to food delivery platforms are in breach of Malta’s employment laws

Malta’s two largest unions agree that new legislation is needed to address ‘slave labour’ among Gig workers, primarily in the food courier business.

Josef Bugeja, secretary general of the GWU, and Josef Vella, CEO of the UĦM Voice of the Workers, said government should intervene to stem the abuse.

And Bugeja even called on people not to use these services since this was tantamount to accepting slave labour.

GWU Secretary General Josef Bugeja
GWU Secretary General Josef Bugeja

MaltaToday last Sunday revealed how recruitment agencies were taking 50% of income made by food couriers working for Bolt and Wolt.

The union bosses spoke to Saviour Balzan on TVM’s Xtra last Thursday. 

Bugeja said: “These people have no protection. Not only are they not considered as self-employed, but they’re not even considered as employed.”

Vella said with digital platforms there’s no relationship between the employer and employee and this led to abuses.

READ ALSO: Cabinet discusses food courier illegal employment practices

Bugeja said two things needed to happen.

The first was the implementation of the pay transparency directive, which Malta still has to transpose, and secondly for parliament to legislate so that these workers are considered employees with full protection at law.

UĦM Voice of the Workers CEO Josef Vella
UĦM Voice of the Workers CEO Josef Vella

Vella said this wasn’t just an issue of Bolt and Wolt but one concerning third country nationals who were being constantly abused.

He said that this was not only having an effect on them but also on Maltese employees, insisting that wages for the Maltese would not rise as long as cheap labour existed.

Only last week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana initiated a consultation process on a new labour market policy, listing among the challenges the downward pressure on wages caused by an influx of third country nationals.

More in Xtra