05 FEBRUARY 2003

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Labour – a worsening economic picture set against the influx of EU workers

It is a simple clause for Labour – EU citizens will be able to come and work in Malta with the country as an EU member, while partnership allows the island to keep its right to issue permits for foreign workers.
Labour are also contending that 11,000 are unemployed, 50 per cent young of people below 25 years of age, while 25 per cent have been without work for the last year and a half. Labour have drawn the threat to jobs against a background of a worsening economy: a 3.5 per cent drop in tourist arrivals, Lm21 million less in travel earnings, Lm21 million less in product exportation, 60 factories closed with 8,000 laid off.
Labour believe the unemployment figure of 14 million in the EU can only spell disaster for a new market such as Malta’s inside the bloc. Six million of these have already been unemployed for the last year and a half. Concurrently, 17 per cent of under-25s have been unemployed for the last 18 months, especially within the Mediterranean European members.
In the last year, unemployment in the EU increased by 0.3 per cent and by 0.4 per cent in the Eurozone countries. The highest rate was recorded in Spain unemployment at 12 per cent, 10 per cent in Italy and Greece, and nine per cent in France and Denmark.
Labour are therefore fearing an enormous influx of EU workers will flood the island.
They have also contradicted the PN for negotiating a supposedly transitory period for holding all permits of EU workers. The MLP contend self-employed can relocate freely anywhere they like in Malta.
Labour are opposing any form of downsizing which will be mandatory in view of the larger European market when factories and other companies will have to bear the brunt of increased competition. This had in fact warranted Alfred Sant’s call to workers, in the last two weeks, to ask their employers what the effects of EU accession could be on the company and how it will affect them.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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