Delays of between six to nine months for the growing population of third country nationals (TCNs) coming to Malta to work are forcing many underground to work illegally, Patricia Graham of the EU Nationals Advisory group said on Friday morning.
Asked what she would tell third country nationals intending to come to work and live in Malta, Graham advised against such a move: “I would tell them not to do it. The situation in Malta has now become untenable.
“There is no customer care and there is no empathy at Identity Malta. Identity Malta needs to put itself in the situation of third country nationals coming here to work – to work, not to live off the state, but to work.
“But without their paperwork being processed they are being forced underground to work illegally.”
The group had organised a protest outside Identity Malta’s offices in Msida for Friday morning, but no one turned up apart from the organisers themselves, as third country workers in Malta were, according to Graham, “too scared to show their faces”.
Speaking to the media outside Identity Malta’s offices, Graham said, “I’m here today on behalf of third country nationals living in Malta wanting to work in Malta, some of whom have been waiting for between six and nine months plus to get their paperwork approved so they can work in Malta.”
Graham, cutting a rather solitary figure at a protest that was expected to have been well-attended considering the number of third country workers in Malta experiencing red tape hardships, said that when the protest had originally been proposed, “people were really keen that enough is now enough and that something needs to be done.”
She explained, “But as time went on people got more and more scared about their faces being on camera. We did think about not having any media present, but that was not going to do any good in getting their voices heard.
“So here I am.”
She observed how the police have recently made multiple arrests and deportations of third country nationals because their paperwork was not in order, in some cases as they have been waiting so long on Identity Malta. She added that such foreign nationals looking to work in Malta are initially allowed to stay on EU territory for four months, but very few of them are receiving their working papers within that timeframe.
She expressed concern that some third country nationals are using up the last of their savings in order to get their paperwork done through back door channels, and that certain employers and recruiting agencies were making use of a ‘fast track’ at Identity Malta to have permits approved.
“We know there is nothing that cannot be bought in Malta,” Graham said. “And what people who are using such channels do not understand is that they will get caught, and the fastest ticket out of Malta is to be caught without valid working papers.”