Labour MP Omar Farrugia has proposed a quota system for “low-skilled” third-county national workers in sectors that have an excess supply.
“There is a unanimous agreement in Parliament on increasing the productivity and added value of our production, but should we look at a quota of foreign third-country nationals who are low-skilled workers?” Farrugia questioned in Parliament.
He said that while Malta should continue welcoming high-skilled third-country nationals with qualifications issued by professional institutions, it should look at imposing a quota that goes down year by year on other workers “unfortunately referred to as low-skilled”.
“The exact numbers should be established following dialogue between stakeholders and social partners,” he said.
“The numbers must be balanced and they must make a difference and make sense over time. That way, we would be leaving a window open for businesses.”
“We are telling businesses to make their operations more efficient, to become more digitalised, to employ workers with a good education, pay competitive salaries, and to make sure that work which is currently done by a sizeable number of workers is done by fewer people, who are of good quality.”
Farrugia clarified that restrictions shouldn’t apply to carers, healthcare workers and people who work in other critically important areas.
However, in sectors where there is excess supply, he proposed utilising elements of the UK’s points-based immigration system.
“It’s easy to use my words out of context and make a show for people who are vulnerable to populism,” he said. “However, I believe that us MPs must stop saying things that appease everyone, like Opposition MPs are doing, and offer ideas for a serious debate.”
The Chamber of Commerce recently called for a cap on the percentage of third-country nationals that businesses can employ, excluding those who offer essential services. Meanwhile, a survey by the Chamber of SMEs found that worker shortages are the biggest problem facing Maltese businesses.
“I am proposing a concept that worked in other countries so that we can improve the lives of people and businesses,” he said.
“I don’t believe the solution is a race to the bottom, in fact we increased the minimum wage, but with a change over a number of years, we can see more sustainable numbers while sustaining businesses who want to expand in Malta.”
Do you agree with a quota system for third-country national workers?