Police yet to file charges over employee fatality in Dwejra in March 2021

Charlie Attard died after he was buried in rubble following the collapse of the roof of a Dwejra public convenience where he was working.

 

The police are yet to present charges against senior government officials at the Gozo Ministry and the management of the Community Workers Scheme (CWS) following the death of a 52-year-old worker from Xewkija almost a year and a half ago, the authorities have confirmed to The Shift.

Charlie Attard died after he was buried in rubble following the collapse of the roof of a Dwejra public convenience where he was working. Attard, who was assigned to conduct maintenance work at the public convenience, was extracted from under the rubble by the Civil Protection Department in March 2021.  Yet it was too late; the 52-year-old had already lost his life.

Sources close to the accident told The Shift that a magisterial inquiry carried out by Magistrate Bridgette Sultana has been concluded and ordered charges filed against several officials to be held responsible for the death of the CWS employee.

Negligence and the lack of observance of health and safety legislation, including the provision of adequate safety gear to the employee, are among the irregularities found that could have contributed to the employee’s death.

Though the accident happened in March 2021 – 17 months ago – no action has been taken so far by the police, and no officials have been charged in court.

A spokesperson for the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) confirmed that the magisterial inquiry has been concluded. He told The Shift, “charges have been already drawn up by the Authority and passed on to the police for implementation.”

The same spokesperson would not clarify when the charges were sent to the police for action.

Contacted by The Shift, the police confirmed that the magisterial inquiry has been concluded and insisted that charges will be presented soon. “The magisterial inquiry has just recently come to a conclusion,” the spokesperson said.

“Consequently, further discussions with the OHSA regarding charges to be brought are still ongoing. Accordingly, the police will file charges in court.”

This accident has also brought to light a new problem concerning the government’s Community Workers Scheme –a scheme that has been criticised for years, and is largely seen as a government tool to collect votes for the party on the backs of taxpayers.

While the more than 1,200 employees put on this scheme are paid by taxpayers and assigned jobs with government entities, they are managed and put on the books of a ‘private’ foundation owned by the General Workers Union. The latter takes a cut in ‘management fees’ – hundreds of thousands a year – from each worker put on the scheme.

The Shift is informed that while the GWU is the official ‘employer’ responsible for these workers, the union is now contesting its responsibility in case of an accident, as happened in Dwejra.

Refusing to be the entity responsible for taking out insurance for the employees on its books, it is arguing that this responsibility should be carried by the public entities and NGOs to which these workers are assigned, including local councils.

The National Statistics Office, which issues unemployment figures, consider these workers as private sector employees working for a ‘private’ foundation owned by the GWU.

This allows unemployment statistics to be kept artificially low, even though these workers are paid from public funds.

                           
                               
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David
David
1 month ago

No Surprise. In Gozo all is at standstill and Gozo is no more. If you have a look around you can notice the badly administered and ill secured Gozo. We are not safe any more. Everyone seem to take the law by his hands. Nobody cares. Police presence is nowhere to be seen. Unlicensed vehicles, trailers, and boats etc.. parked on the roads for months and years unnoticed.

Mark Vassallo
Mark Vassallo
1 month ago

Are they waiting for the charges to be time barred?

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