Government jobless scheme: Għasri gets twice as many workers as St Paul’s Bay

The scheme has proved to be a resounding success in Gozo, which accounts for almost half of its 1,200 workers, and which shows how the Gozo Ministry has become an unofficial employment agency

 

The Gozitan village of Għasri, among the smallest of islands’ localities with a population of just 423, should count itself lucky after its local council was assigned six full-time state-funded community workers to keep the village spic and span.

On the contrary, Malta’s largest locality, St Paul’s Bay, with a population bursting at the seams at over 32,000 and counting, has not been quite as fortunate as Għasri and has been assigned only three community workers by the General Workers’ Union-run government scheme.

While Għasri has effectively been allotted one community worker for every 70 residents, St Paul’s Bay has been given one worker for every 10,500 residents.

A similar pattern can be seen across the country, with Gozitan local councils being well-supplied with community workers while their Maltese counterparts, much larger both in area and population, are being underserved.

According to statistics tabled in Parliament, there are more community workers in Gozo’s capital, Victoria (5), than in the country’s capital city, Valletta (4), which is frequented by tens of thousands of people every day.

While Gharb and its population of 1,314 have 12 community workers assigned to its local council, much larger localities in Malta, such as Balzan, Mqabba, Sta Venera and Mtarfa, have just one community worker each.

The record-holder is in Xagħra in Gozo, which, with a population of under 4,400, counts 13 community workers – more than twice the number of its local councillors.

While Malta’s 43 local councils currently share 222 community workers, Gozo’s 13 local councils have been assigned a total of 111 workers. Proportionately speaking, Gozo’s local councils should be assigned a single worker each.

Many Gozitan councillors complain that they never actually see their supposed community workers and that reports to the Gozo Ministry over the state of affairs remain ignored.

The situation reflects how the Gozo Ministry has become an unofficial employment agency, with most Gozitans now being employed with the government, its satellite agencies or with state-contracted work agencies.

The Community Work Scheme was initially intended to serve as a job training scheme for the long-term unemployed to equip them with the skills required for employment in the private sector.

Instead, hundreds upon hundreds of people were placed on the scheme, through which they were given a permanent government job with little or next to nothing to do and with practically no surveillance.

This has allowed many of those on the scheme to spend less than a 40-hour week at work and still be free to run their private businesses or do other work – undeclared.

The scheme proved a resounding success in Gozo, and almost half its 1,200 workers hail from Malta’s sister island.

While the scheme is costing taxpayers some €20 million a year, the government assigned its management to the General Workers Union, which, through a ‘non-profit’ foundation, takes a commission on every employee placed on the scheme.

In the meantime, all those on the scheme had stopped registering as unemployed and are now considered, for statistical purposes, employed by the private sector even though their salaries are paid with public funds.

The scheme kills two birds with one stone, with the government also being able to brag about having among the lowest unemployment figures in the EU.

The Auditor General recently warned the Community Work Scheme could be a mere exercise in keeping national unemployment figures low, confirming a long-held suspicion that the scheme for which the public is paying millions every year has had few tangible results, except for the Labour Party.

The scheme, the National Audit Office warned, “is being rendered as an end in itself rather than a stepping stone towards gainful and sustainable employment” that is keeping unemployment figures artificially low by having people seeking work shifted onto the scheme.

The scheme’s directors count among them the GWU’s top echelons, including the union’s President Victor Carachi and Secretary General Joseph Bugeja.

                           
                           
                               
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
16 days ago

Gozo – the ‘Eden’ of the Maltese archipelago!!

Leli
Leli
16 days ago

First there were the “korpi”
Today we have the nicer sounding “schemes”

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
16 days ago
Reply to  Leli

Only they are much more costly than the 1070’s ones, which, as far as is known, were managed directly by the Government (some even by the Armed Forces) without any commission going to ‘middlemen’.

And they were certainly far more productive!

Myself
Myself
16 days ago

Suggestion for some investigative journalism: request the work schedule of these Gozitan workers for the next two months and present yourself on the spot on one of those days selected on a random basis. Ready to bet my house that you will find no-one!

M.Galea
M.Galea
16 days ago
Reply to  Myself

Gozitan workers?? Please be informed that there are also Maltese workers among them so please do not generalize!

John C.
John C.
16 days ago

Il-ministeru ghal Ghawdex messhom semmewh Il-Ministeru tal-Qerq, Serq u Imbrolji. Kien ikun juxraqlu hafna aktar.

Ta’ min jghidulhom prosit lill-klikka li hemm ghax Ghawdex qatt ma kien dizastru u mahmug bhal dawn l-ahhar sentejn.

Isthu jekk tafu!

Imma ma tafux basta timlew butkom.

David
David
15 days ago

Rest assured the majority of these scheme workers and other government employees do not even know where they are assigned to work. No one report for work. Those who attend will disappear after only one hour. This is all done with the blessing from top. No action is taken. It is normal. Where is the General Auditor ? No accountability. The cherry on the cake is that all these scheme workers and other government employees go and work illegally (no vat and no tax) in all kinds of jobs all over the island stealing work from registered self employees. Clyde Caruana seems to be happy with the black economy. No action. No inspections. Banana Republic.

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